The backstage dramas of the 1960s iconic girl group The Supremes have kept the publishing industry busy since the group finally broke up almost 30 years ago.
First there was Mary Wilson’s bitter bestseller Dreamgirl in which she told how Diana Ross had turned on all those around her, and then the sequel Supreme Faith. Ross hit back with her spleen-venting Secrets Of The Sparrow.
Then came the expos?em>Call Her Miss Ross, which further put the boot into Ross, while All That Glittered left none of the divas unscathed.
Now Cindy Birdsong has announced she too has finished her book about her time in The Supremes, while the backstage musical Dreamgirls has been made into a movie and is due for a Christmas release.
So, with their infighting now almost as famous as the legendary music they created, it is refreshing when former member Scherrie Payne says she has no plans to write her memoirs.
Speaking from her home in Los Angeles on the eve of the Australian tour of The Former Ladies of The Supremes, Payne says, I have been asked -“ many times -“ but no, there will be no book from me.
If I was to write a book, I would have to tell the truth, and there are things I don’t want to sugarcoat.
There were good things and bad things, but I’d rather move ahead. What it should be all about is the music, because there is real joy in that music. They are songs that made you feel good.
Payne was the lead singer of the group for four years in the 1970s after Ross had departed.
She is joined in The Former Ladies of The Supremes by another former Supreme, Lynda Laurence, as well as singer Freddi Poole.
In the show, Payne, Laurence and Poole share the vocals on such classics as Stop! In The Name Of Love and Love Child, as well as later Supremes hits like Stoned Love and Up The Ladder To The Roof.
While they share lead vocals now, Payne and Laurence stepped back six years ago to let Diana Ross take centre stage when they joined her on the infamous Return To Love Supremes reunion tour.
The tour eventually fell apart as Ross and Wilson engaged in a public slanging match over the contract terms. But Payne has only high praise for Ross, claiming she was nothing like the diva she is reputed to be.
Anyone who says something bad about her, I am not sure where they are coming from as she could not have been lovelier, she says.
Don’t believe everything you read because she really is so warm and gracious -“ a great lady.
People change with time. When The Supremes began, those three original girls were so young and just starting out. Everyone is a little older now with more experience to themselves.
You hear this side of the story and that side of the story, and then the truth is in there somewhere as well. I have to say working with Diana was a pleasure.
With some of the old wounds set to be picked over again with the movie Dreamgirls, Payne says it is more important to remember the impact The Supremes had when they first hit.
They were three young black girls whose music took the world by storm in a very different time. They really made a difference, she says. As another young black woman watching them, they did nothing but inspire me, and then I eventually became one.
Payne had a solo hit in the mid-1980s with the Dreamgirls disco number, One Night Only. She is currently working on a new remix of the song to coincide with the release of the movie.
You just want to move with that song -“ it is wonderful. We also have a new single, Sisters United, which is the first new Supremes song in 30 years. The Supremes music has always made people happy.
The Former Ladies of The Supremes appear at the Capitol Theatre on Saturday 23 September. Bookings on 136 100.