|Single by The Supremes|
|from the album New Ways but Love Stays|
|B-side||"Shine On Me"|
|Released||October 15, 1970|
|Recorded||Golden World (Studio B), Detroit: March 10, April 2, and April 27, 1970; New York City studio: May 12, 1970|
|Genre||Soul, pop, psychedelic soul|
|Length||3:01 (single edit)
4:09 (album version)
|The Supremes singles chronology|
"Stoned Love" is a 1970 hit single recorded by The Supremes for the Motown label. It was the last Billboard Pop Top Ten hit for the group, peaking at number seven, and their last Billboard number-one R&B hit as well, although the trio continued to score top ten hits in the UK into 1972. This single and "Up the Ladder to the Roof" are the only top-ten Supremes singles to feature Jean Terrell on lead vocals instead of Diana Ross, who left the group in January 1970 to pursue a solo career. In the UK, it was the post-Ross Supremes' biggest hit, reaching number 3 in the singles chart, and in terms of chart success, was tied for the group's second-highest placing single ever, under any incarnation. The single spent six weeks in the UK top ten and five weeks in the US top ten.
A plea for love and peace similar to those recorded by Sly & the Family Stone in the late 1960s, the lyrics of "Stoned Love" were a plea for the people of the world to end conflict and animosity between each other, specifically the Vietnam War. Writer Kenny Thomas chose the term "stone love" to define the concept of an unchanging bond between one another. A slight variant of that phrase appeared two years later in The Stylistics' title "I'm Stone in Love with You".
Thomas was a Detroit teenager who had entered some of his songs into a local radio talent show, which record producer Frank Wilson happened to tune into. Wilson arranged a meeting with the young musician at Thomas' house, where he proceeded to play a number of songs on a guitar that only had two strings. One of the songs he played was an unfinished version of "Stoned Love." Wilson was very much impressed with the song and came back to Thomas' house a few days later with, to Thomas' delight and surprise, Supremes member Mary Wilson (no relation to Frank).
After a few lines of the song were revised by the producer, "Stoned Love" was recorded during the spring of 1970. The instrumental track was recorded with The Funk Brothers and at least 30 other session musicians in Detroit at Motown Studio B (the former Golden World studio), while Jean Terrell, Mary Wilson, and Cindy Birdsong recorded their vocals in New York. The song was originally written and recorded as "Stone Love," but during the process of mixing and releasing, it was mislabeled as "Stoned Love."
Release and controversy
Many people saw the song as a coded reference to drug use, and many radio station owners were at first apprehensive to play the record. Motown founder Berry Gordy was also said to have hated the song, and label executive Barney Ales had to arrange for the RKO radio stations to agree to play "Stoned Love" before releasing the single. Fearing that the song was indeed a reference to drug use, CBS cut a live performance of the song from a November 1970 episode of The Merv Griffin Show.
The Supremes' album New Ways but Love Stays, released in October 1970, spawned only "Stoned Love" as a single. The song also appears in the 1994 film Forrest Gump starring Tom Hanks. In 2004 neo soul singer Angie Stone covered the tune as the intro to her Stone Love album.
In other media
- 1 Kenny Thomas' writing credit on "Stoned Love" is listed as "Yennek Samoht"; his name spelled backwards (with an extra "e" to aid pronunciation). He did this both to emulate Stevie Wonder (who sometimes billed himself as "Eivets Rednow") and because he thought "Samoht" was close to the last name of his idol Nina Simone.
- Lead vocals by Jean Terrell
- Background vocals by Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong
- Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers
- Arranged by David Van DePitte
Weekly singles charts
"The Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
|Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles number-one single
December 26, 1970
"Groove Me" by King Floyd
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 558.