Diana Ross: Her Personal Journey Through ‘The Blues’

(Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

From the supergroup, The Supremes, to her solo career in music and film, legendary singer and performerDiana Ross has become a household name in entertainment. Diana left the Supremes for a solo career in 1969 and hit the charts the next year with the songs “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” And she first branched out into acting with the Billie Holiday biopic “Lady Sings the Blues.”

One of her outstanding performances as an actress was her starring role in the TV adaptation of the play, “The Wiz” in 1978. The singer played the lead as “Dorothy” and co-starred Michael Jackson in his very first movie role.  It’s a performance that she’s very proud of and speaks highly of the remake in 2015 of “The Wiz: Live!”

Yet, all of her success came with some kind of challenge that led to her to not just singing the blues, but being “blue” in real life. Criticism on her acting, her marriages, death in the family, etc all played some part of her journey through and ultimately overcoming depression and substance abuse.

The 76-year-old Ross was admitted to a rehab facility for drug and alcohol abuse, in May of 2002. Her spokesman revealed that Diana had secretly entered the Promises Rehabilitation Center in Malibu ten days earlier, to “clear up some personal issues.” The issues centered around Diana Ross’ drinking, although reports suggested that she may have been abusing prescription painkillers as well.

Ross, who liked to put cognac in her coffee before she walked on stage, also enjoyed poorly fleece wine after her shows. According to sources in the U.S., Miss Ross’s children became concerned as she drank wine day and night. ‘The pain pills were prescribed for an old injury,’ added the source. ‘But soon she was hooked on them too. She was becoming more and more depressed, and totally reliant on substances to make it through the day.

It was found that she did turned to alcohol and drugs after her 14-year marriage to Norwegian shipping tycoon Arne Naess ended in 1999.

‘And she was experiencing tremendous mood swings because of the pills and booze.’ Miss Ross seemed ‘disoriented’ when she checked into the Promises clinic, the source said. It was the second time Miss Ross has sought help after her traumatic breakup with Naess, whom she has since divorced.

Despite her personal and professional ups and downs, Ross has withstood the test of time as a performer with a career that spans more than four decades. She has won several major awards, including a Golden Globe, a Tony Award, and several American Music Awards. Ross was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 as part of the Supremes.

Ross was named the “Female Entertainer of the Century” by Billboard magazine. In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Ross the most successful female music artist in history, due to her success in the United States and United Kingdom for having more hits than any female artist in the charts, with a career total of 70 hit singles with her work with the Supremes and as a solo artist.

On November 19, 2017, Ross received the American Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award. Ross performed several of her hits, ending with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, during which she brought all of her grandchildren…