The Happening

Album: Greatest Hits (1967)
Charted: 6 1
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  • This song was written for the 1967 movie The Happening, which starred Anthony Quinn, George Maharis, Michael Parks, Robert Walker Jr., and Faye Dunaway. The film flopped, but the song went to #1 in the US, giving The Supremes their 10th chart-topper in that country.
  • The songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland co-wrote this with Frank DeVol, who was the musical director for the film. In a Songfacts interview with Lamont Dozier, he explained: "We wrote it because of the title. Frank DeVol, it was his music that had to do a lot with that. He had partial music already written, so we took that feeling that he had and added our own interpretation and added melodies and whatever we had to do to make it a pop song. That's why you'll find his name on the credits, because he was responsible for some of the music."

    Dozier co-wrote another #1 song for a film when he teamed up with Phil Collins for "Two Hearts," from the 1988 movie, Buster. That movie also tanked.
  • Like their previous single, "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone," this was recorded at Columbia Studios in Los Angeles with the same studio musicians used by The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Sonny & Cher and many others. Recording away from Motown's Detroit studios was a challenge for the Holland-Dozier-Holland team, which produced the songs they wrote. They had a set group of musicians at Motown they always worked with, so there was a comfort level there. Los Angeles though, had no shortage of talent.

    "We did that with a whole new group of musicians that we hadn't been used to playing with or working with," Dozier told Songfacts. "But, all good musicians can play and get what you're trying to do, or you can sort of get them to play the feelings that you want them to play. In this case, LA had a lot of good guys, so it wasn't too bad. It wasn't too much of a stretch to get the guys to play the feelings that we wanted."
  • Musically, this is a rather unusual Supremes song, and not just because it was recorded outside of Detroit. The film was promoted as a "swinging hit feature with a happening vibe. It's a caper, so the song had to have a chaotic, swirling sound, which was achieved with piccolos.
  • This was a milestone song for The Supremes. It was:

    1) Their last hit released under the name "The Supremes." Later in 1967, they became "Diana Ross & the Supremes." They reverted back to "The Supremes" in 1970 when Ross left the group.

    2) The last of their 10 #1 hits written by the Holland-Dozier-Holland team. They left Motown a year later in a dispute over royalties.

    3) Their last hit with Florence Ballard, who was fired soon after and replaced with Cindy Birdsong.
  • An instrumental version by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass reached US #32 in 1967.
  • The demo version of this song appears on the 4-CD (and limited edition 5-CD) box set The Supremes, released in 2000. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jerro - New Alexandria, PA, for all above

Comments: 11

  • Babbling Babette from Tulsa OkI loved this brassy #1 hit from The Supremes. Back then, it seemed like the spring & summer of 1967 were magical on the music scene. The Supremes, The Beatles, The Doors, the Mamas & the Papas. The famed Summer of Love. It was so cool. A lot of musical creativity. This hit seemedd to be a departure from earlier themes for The Supremes. The brassy sound was so cool & crisp-sounding that it just grabbed your attention. The background vocals were tops. One thing I've always wondered about though. I think I hear someone murmuring in the background or talking. I play the song on vinyl and CD and still hear it in the background. Is it some type of instrument or a voice?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 22nd 1967, the Supremes performed "The Happening"* on the NBC-TV program 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson'...
    At the time the song was at #5 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; fifteen days earlier on May 7th, 1967 it had peaked at #1 for 1 week {See 3rd post below}...
    This was the last time that Florence Ballard would perform as a Supreme...
    Florence Glenda Ballard passed away on February 22nd, 1976 at the young age of 32...
    May she R.I.P.
    * Just a side note; on May 22nd, 1967 a group named the Happenings were at #3 on the Top 100 with a covered version of "I Got Rhythm", which was composed by George Gershwin in 1930.
  • Dug from Winnipeg, MbInteresting to note that this song was performed live at EXPO '67 in Montreal during its run on the charts. The Ed Sullivan Show was being taped for three consecutive Sundays at EXPO '67 and The Supremes were part of Ed's entertainment broadcast during the first week there.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 2nd 1967, "The Happening" by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #76 ; and on July 30th, 1967 it peaked at #32 and spent 5 weeks on the Top 100 (and after peaking at #32 the next week it was completely off the Top 100)...
    It reached #4 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    And for the year 1967 the 'Brass' had four other records make the Top 100; "Mame" (at #19), "Wade in the Water" (at #37), "Casino Royale" (at #27), and "A Banda (Ah Bahn-Da)" (at #35)...
    On May 7th, 1967 the Supremes' vocal version of the song reached #1 (for 1 week) on the Top 100 chart (and at #12 on the Hot R&B Singles chart).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 7th 1967, the Supremes performed "The Happening" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show' (the show originated from the Montreal Expo '67 Worlds Fair)...
    One month earlier on April 2nd, 1967 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at #57; and on May 7th it peaked at #1 (for 1 week) and spent 11 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #12 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Its 1 week stay at #1 prevented "Sweet Soul Music" by Arthur Conley from reaching #1, it peaked at #2 for just 1 week...
    "The Happening" was the last in a string of four straight #1 records on the Top 100 by the trio; started with "You Can't Hurry Love" (for 2 weeks), "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (for 2 weeks), "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone" (for 1 week), and finally this one...
    Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass' version entered the chart on July 2nd, 1967 at #76; it peaked at #32 (for 1 week) on July 30th and that was its final week on the Top 100.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThe record that was released right after "The Happening" was "Reflections" and the label read Diana Ross and The Supremes, it peaked at #2 and stayed there for two weeks!!!
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, Cathis tune is atypical of a supremes release, but
    it has a magical sound, and I like it....theres a bit of tj brass influence in there......
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlEven though the movie of the same name was a cinematic flop, this song made it to #1 in May of 1967. It was also the first time that Holland-Dozier-Holland would share a writing credit with a fourth person.
  • Gordon from Jacksonville, FlGreat song, know it was from a movie, but one of the better orchestrated Supremes offerings...would like to question a couple of the lyrics--is it "you'll find your world is crumbling down" or "...coming down"--can't tell Diana, but the Supremes sure sound like the say "coming"--also, the "It's not a bliss" if you listen to it, sure sounds like "all bliss"--just wondering. Thanks
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiawe had a music show in the 60's here in Australia called "happening" or something like that and they used this song !!!!!!!!as the theme ...well there you go
  • AnonymousHere is a recommendation to anyone who's a fan of the Supremes or likes the film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" or both: listen to this song and then listen closely to the vaudeville-styled song that is played during the film's sequence about the trip to New York then to Bolivia (the "Butch Cassidy" soundtrack calls the vaudeville-like song "The Old Fun City"). The melodies of both songs are not identical, but you'll notice that they sound very similar!
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