Produced in Detroit in 1943, vocalist Florence Ballard, became renowned in the 1960s as an associate of The Supremes, a group which she began with youth friends Mary Wilson and Diana Ross. She sang on 16 distinct Top 40 hits but left the group in 1967 after a dispute with Motown Records. She expired on February 22, 1976 in Detroit, Michigan at just 32 years old. Florence Ballard was born in Detroit, Michigan, on June 30, 1943. The ninth in a home of many kids, Florence Ballard and her big family moved around often among different public housing jobs before eventually settling down in the Brewsterdouglass Jobs in 1958. Ballard participated in the church choir from an early age.
Having outdone herself in the audition, Ballard was commissioned by Jenkins to locate other associates to form The Primes’ new sister group, The Primettes. Ballard promptly encouraged her good buddy Mary Wilson, who in turn recruited another neighborhood buddy, Diane Earle, afterwards known as Diana Ross. Betty McGlown shortly finished the quartet. When Martin also leave the group, Ballard, Wilson and Ross decided it could stay a trio.)
In the summer of 1960, a 17-year old Ballard suffered a terrible event that will forever shape her nature and transfer her formerly joyful outlook on life to some mistrust and anxiety of strangers. After leaving a sock hop at Detroit’s Graystone Ballroom one warm summer night, Ballard was divided from her brother Billy and taken a ride home from a young man whom she believed she understood, a local high school basketball player.
For another several weeks, Ballard secluded herself from people, even concealing from her confused band mates who understood nothing of the terrible event that had transpired. Eventually, Ballard told her group mates what occurred to her. Even though the girls were sympathetic, they stayed perplexed about Ballard’s new behaviour; she’d always been a headstrong, unflappable character, but now there was an obvious change in her part. Mary Wilson would later credit Ballard’s character as an adult and following self destructive behaviour to the assault Ballard experienced when she was a teenager.
The Primettes never formally designated anyone as the lead vocalist, so frequently the group would only sing in unison or swap roles on the list of trio as lead singer. Ballard sang lead vocals on the hit “Buttered Popcorn” when she was only 17 years old. Her voice was so strong on the track that studio engineers requested that she stand 17 feet from the mic while she sang. (Gladys Horton, lead singer of The Marvelettes, requested Ballard’s guidance before she magnificently recorded “Please Mr. Postman.”) Although Ballard had a tremendous and soulful voice, she never sang head again on another released 45 single for the group.
During the following several years, the relationship between Ballard and Berry Gordy became increasingly more strained, as the all powerful Motown chief sought to make Diana Ross the star of The Supremes. From the time Gordy renamed the act Diana Ross and The Supremes in 1967, Ballard had started to retaliate by jumping scheduled public appearances and studio sessions. Her last performance with all the infamous trio came in Vegas in June 1967, with Gordy bringing in vocalist Cindy Birdsong as a replacement. In fact, Gordy had booted her from the group.
Ballard wed a Motown chauffeur named Thomas Chapman in February 1968 and immediately hired him as her new supervisor after her departure in the label. Ballard released the singles “It Does Not Matter How I Say It (It Is What I Say That Issues)” and “Love Ain’t Love” on ABC Records, but the singles failed to chart. Ballard’s record for ABC was shelved, sending her musical career into a downward spiral. Ballard also faced financial problems after hiring an alleged embezzler as her company lawyer; she later sued him for cash owed after finding he was skimming off the very top of her gains. She had a third child, Lisa, in 1971. Problems in her private life continued, nevertheless, as Thomas left Ballard after that year, causing her house in order to go into foreclosure. Ballard’s fiscal woes worsened because she refused to go back to the stage. With three young girls at home with no income, she eventually needed to apply for welfare.
Ballard’s chain of bad luck started to turn in 1975 when her former solicitor’s office settled an insurance dispute along with her. The resolution enabled her to buy a modest house for herself and her three kids. Ballard also made up with her estranged husband. Fueled by means of a revival of energy, she started performing again using the female rock group The Deadly Nightshade. Following her come back to the entire world of music, Ballard was reserved for a number of television and magazine interviews and started researching methods to restore her career. Only when Ballard’s life ultimately appeared to be on an up swing, disaster hit. She died the following day of a blood clot on among her coronary arteries according to examiners. She was just 32 years old.
Questions have arisen regarding the cause of Ballard’s departure over time, with her sister Maxine Ballard Jenkins alleging that there was foul play. Ballard’s brief life seen more than its share of disappointment and despair. But her contribution to music, particularly as an associate of The Supremes, brought enjoyment to lovers all over the world. Ballard sang on 16 distinct Top 40 hits; she, Diana Ross, and Mary Wilson dazzled the world by using their ability and fashion, becoming role models to countless men and women.