Certain of where she’s going
The year in which this photo was taken, 1976, saw Diana Ross returning energetically to music after spending much of ’75 on the making of Mahogany, her second movie. Its title song had returned the star to the peak of the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time since 1973’s “Touch Me In The Morning.” Now she was ready to hit the road on her first international tour in three years, beginning with concerts in the UK in March, followed by shows through April in Continental Europe, including Holland, Belgium, France, Germany and Italy.
“Our most fantastic response comes in England,” said Shelly Berger, Diana’s personal manager, speaking to Billboard at the time. “In fact, the last time we played the Albert Hall, we had to dress somebody like Diana and use her as a decoy while we slipped out the back. In the provinces, we’ve been thrown into police cars and driven away from concerts because the limousine would be covered with people.” Such excitement occurred in ’73 when Diana performed not only in London, but also in Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.
Among a smaller group of Motown fans in the UK, there was another source of excitement: legendary “Funk Brother” James Jamerson was playing bass in Diana’s band for the first few dates. Melody Maker journalist Richard Williams, for one, was interested in interviewing the musician, but tour managers rebuffed the approach for fear it would detract from attention being paid to the headliner. In the event, Jamerson was soon sent home, having fallen off stage while inebriated during one show.
There were additional challenges during the ’76 tour: Diana’s “Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” had been nominated for an Academy Award, and the Oscar telecast was to be broadcast March 29 from Los Angeles’ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. That same night, she was scheduled to perform the second of her three Dutch concerts, and so the ABC-TV network arranged for a satellite link to feature her singing the nominated song “live” from Amsterdam. Given the nine-hour time difference between the two countries, the connection had to take place in the Dutch city during the early hours of March 30.
When Diana’s spot on the telecast came due, there she was for audiences across America, singing the Mahogany hit (which had only just fallen off the charts) while riding in a horse-drawn carriage through the darkened streets of Amsterdam. Given the hour – and the season – she wore a fur coat and hat, to fend off the cold. The satellite connection wasn’t perfect, but she lip-synced with class. Unfortunately, Academy voters denied Diana the Oscar later that night (or morning, in her case): it went to Keith Carradine’s “It’s Easy” from the movie Nashville.
Another challenge during the European tour was “Love Hangover,” initially a track on the singer’s brand new album, Diana Ross. The release of a cover version by the 5th Dimension compelled Motown to rush out her original as a single, and Diana postponed some of the UK concerts to return home to do promotion. The result was that “Love Hangover” became her fourth solo Number One in the US, and Diana did return across the Atlantic to fulfil the postponed shows.