The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Stop! In the Name of Love"

Wednesday, January 15: 5 p.m.
Posted by Alexandra Fagan
The Supremes' "Stop! In the Name of Love" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

In January 1961, Motown signed the Supremes, an all-female group who emerged from the poverty of Detroit’s Brewster housing project to become among Motown’s most consistent hitmakers and the most popular female group of the 60s. 

Representing the Motown sound at its most stylized, the Supremes were the 1960s’ biggest group after the Beatles. They scored 10 Number One hits, including five in a row, right in the midst of the British Invasion. Diana Ross’ vocals achieved their greatest affect in this period because producers/songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland supplied her with novel concepts that capitalized on her penchant for melodrama. “Stop! In the Name of Love” could be the most dramatic of them all. HDH recordings used gospel elements more proudly and directly than any other Motown productions – the ever-present Motown tambourine is a gospel trademark, for example. But HDH never limited themselves.

Diana Ross and The Supremes exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum“Stop! In the Name of Love” benefits from James Jamerson’s earthquake bassline, the track's baritone sax riff and ringing vibes undercurrent, and an organ part adding tension to Ross' chilling moment: “Stop!” Stylistically, Ross had little more relationship to gospel than Frank Sinatra does, but HDH didn't put her in church, they simply suggested she was part of a musical culture that contains such elements, while allowing her personality to shine. In that respect there's no doubt who created “Stop! In the Name of Love,”or that it’s a work of genius.

While their sensational harmonized vocals made an indelible impression on pop culture, the Supremes were also well known for their charismatic style, including trademark matching glamorous gowns. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, features some of these memorable gowns in the Legends of Rock exhibit, including the glimmering dresses seen on the 1969 NBC-TV special GIT on Broadway. These enchanting outfits were also seen on the back cover of the Supremes and Four Tops album The Return of the Magnificent Seven.

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