July 10, 2000 -- Diana Ross’s Return to Love tour has turned into a “return the tickets” fiasco.
Promoters pulled the plug on the remaining dates of what was supposed to be a triumphant reunion tour. After just 12 dates and cancellations over the weekend in New York and Washington D.C., it ended.
The tour suffered from bad karma ever since it was revealed that Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong, who performed with Ross in the Supremes in the 1960s, refused to join because they felt they weren’t being paid enough. Tickets, priced as high as $253 dollars in some cities, weren’t moving.
Baby, Where Did Our Love Go?
Ross soldiered on with Lynda Laurence and Scherrie Payne, two women who joined the Supremes after she left in 1969, but they sang in some arenas to more empty seats than fans.
“A lot of people realized it wasn’t a true Supremes reunion and it cast a negative pall on the tour before it even started,” said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, a concert industry tradepublication.
Ross said in a statement that she was “severely disappointed” that the promoter, SFX, had decided to cancel the tour.
“I would sing the same if there were 10 people in the audience or 10,000,” Ross said. “I love the music and the fans, and I will find a way to reconnect with them as soon as possible.”
It’s one of the biggest business disasters yet for SFX, the company that dominates the concert industry. Industry insiders speculated that they paid too much for Ross and overestimated herappeal.
Ross said last month that she had contacted Wilson and Birdsong to see if they would beinterested in performing this summer. When they said they would, she turned negotiations over to the show’s producers.
But the women complained — publicly — that Ross would be getting much more money than them.
“I just don’t think that Mary had the vision at all to understand that this was not about money,” Ross said. “I really think it’s shortsighted, if you know what I mean. Because five years from now, we wouldn’t be able to do this tour.”
On this tour, Ross and her new companions were singing some of the biggest Supremes hits from the 1960s, including “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Baby Love” and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.”
Yet when they played in Columbus, Ohio, June 20, there were fewer than 3,000 people in a 22,000-seat arena.
Buck Wolf, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.