During a recent appearance on “Drink Champs,” the “If You Only Knew” singer recalled stories of her days early in her career performing at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, with several then-up-and-coming groups, including Diana Ross and the Supremes.
Patti claims her feud with the “You Can’t Hurry Love” singer began after she allegedly copied her onstage looks. “People used to come to the Apollo all the time and sell hot clothes like Gucci and all of that stuff, and it was worth thousands – I brought all the clothes – so I had moments with The Supremes at the show,” the legendary singer said.
She continued, “We [LaBelle] would go to Walmart or Walgreens or one of those cheap stores and buy gold outfits. And so the next day, the day we wore them, the next day The Supremes had on the same gold things. They were biting my style. No for real, biting big. I said, ‘Girl, we ain’t got no money. It’s the only outfit we have.’ And so we both have on the same outfits, but it was after they saw ours and somebody want to buy it.”
Patti recalled the moment she reached peak frustration with the “Missing You” songbird. In the early 1960s, the singer served as lead singer and frontwoman of the vocal group Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, which consisted of Sarah Dash, Nona Hendryx and Cindy Birdsong.
The story goes: “We were in Cleveland, ready to go on stage, and there were only three Patti LaBelle members. Cindy Birdsong had gone to take Florence Ballard’s place with The Supremes. They had been rehearsing her for months. And that night, she left us. She left us to go with The Supremes; she jumped ship big time.”
Patti acknowledged in hindsight that the departure proved more lucrative for her former bandmate; however, she said she didn’t appreciate how Diana went about the situation.
“After it all settled in my bones, I said, ‘Thank God, She’s making more money with them than she was with me.’ So, it was a blessing for her, but do it the right freaking way,” she shared. “And Diana, don’t come stealing my chicks in the middle of the night. So she stole Cindy Birdsong from me….I forgot about that … Yeah, that was a no-no. That would be a no-no, no baby. But that’s what happened. That’s why we had issues.”
Although she’s since moved on from the incident, Patti admitted she was hurt by how her friend was treated in the end.
“All I could do was bless her and say, ‘You know, I’m praying for you to climb,’ ” she said of Cindy’s exit. “And then something happened then she’s no longer with them – Diana left – and left her without a bluebell or a paddle. Those things hurt me,” she continued. “Because they took her for the right reasons for them but the wrong reason in the end.”
Patti said it has since become water under the bridge, revealing nowadays that the two ladies are friends after making amends at an event thrown by Oprah Winfrey.