Stoned Love is the lead (and only) single from The Supremes' album "New Ways but Love Stays."
It was released by Motown on October 15, 1970.
It was the last Billboard Pop Top Ten hit for the group, peaking at number seven on December 19-26 1970 (a year to the week after "Someday We'll Be Together" headed the Billboard Hot 100) 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 of 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, it 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.
The song was similar to late 1960s Sly & the Family Stone recordings. It was an exhilarating plea for the people of the world to end conflict and animosity between each other, specifically the Vietnam War.
Songwriter 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."
Kenny 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."
Many people saw the song as a coded reference to drug use and many radio station owners were apprehensive to play the record at first.
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."
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|U.S. Billboard R&B Singles||1|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks||24|
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- Lead vocals by Jean Terrell
- Background vocals by Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong
- Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers
- Arranged by David Van DePitte