‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’: How Diana Ross Silenced The Doubters

One Motown smash replaced another at No. 1 in the US on September 19, 1970, as Edwin Starr’s ‘War’ was succeeded by Diana’s ’Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.’

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Diana Ross 'Ain’t No Mountain High Enough' artwork - Courtesy: UMG
Diana Ross 'Ain’t No Mountain High Enough' artwork - Courtesy: UMG

As so often before, Motown succeeded itself at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of September 19, 1970. That chart showed Edwin Starr’s “War” having its three-week reign ended by Diana Ross, scoring her first solo chart-topper and starting a three-week run of her own with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

Ross’ solo career after leaving the Supremes had, surprisingly, not had the most auspicious start, when her first single in her own name, Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson’s “Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” peaked at No.20 on the pop chart. In the UK, it only made No.33.

Up The Ladder To The Roof

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To heighten matters, the Supremes’ first single without Diana, “Up The Ladder To The Roof,” had done altogether better, peaking at No.10. It all appeared to knock Diana’s confidence. In some of her first solo concerts, she would say to the audience: “Good evening, everybody, and welcome to the ‘Let’s-see-if-Diana-Ross-can-do-it-by-herself’ show.”

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

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Then in July 1970, Motown released her cover of another Ashford & Simpson song which had been a hit three years earlier for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. The singer herself was rather surprised at the writers’ suggestion of a cover of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” but went along with it.

Berry Gordy then insisted that he would not release it as a single unless the producers move the chorus to the front, which Ashford & Simpson flatly refused. It was radio programmers who took the cut, from her self-titled first album and started playing it, that created the hit.

Listen to uDiscover Music’s Diana Ross Best Of playlist.

Ross’ remake truly made the song her own, and went on to receive a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, where it lost out to Dionne Warwick’s “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.” All the same, the song really lit the fire under Ross’ stardom in her own right, and became the first of no fewer than five solo pop chart-toppers, plus a sixth with Lionel Richie on “Endless Love.”

Buy or stream “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on the album Diana Ross.




    September 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm


  2. Sharon

    September 23, 2014 at 7:52 pm


  3. DAVID

    October 14, 2014 at 7:26 pm


  4. Mary Ashley

    September 20, 2015 at 12:08 am

    My man and I went to Foxswood to see Diana Ross Last Night, GREAT SHOW!

  5. John

    September 20, 2015 at 2:47 am

    Ross had SIX number one pop hits – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” “Touch Me In The Morning,” “Theme From Mahogany,” “Love Hangover,” “Upside Down,” and “Endless Love.”

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