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The Supremes On Hullabaloo

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Today we remember the short but impactful life of singer Florence Ballard. She formed was part of The Supremes in 1961 with childhood friends Mary Wilson and Diana Ross. .

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  • Born in Detroit in 1943, singer Florence Ballard, became famous in the 1960s as a member of The Supremes, a group which she started with childhood friends Mary Wilson and Diana Ross. She sang on 16 different Top 40 hits but left the group in 1967 after a dispute with Motown Records. She died on February 22, 1976 in Detroit, Michigan at only 32 years old.

  • Milton Jenkins of The Primes (a singing group which would later become The Temptations) was recruiting girls to audition for an all-female quartet when he became impressed by Ballard’s singing style at a talent show. Having outdone herself at the audition, Ballard was commissioned by Jenkins to find other members to form The Primes’ new sister group, The Primettes. Ballard immediately invited her good friend Mary Wilson, who in turn recruited another neighborhood pal, Diane Earle, later known as Diana Ross.


  • After a couple years performing at sock hops and jubilees, the group signed with Motown Records as The Supremes, a name chosen by Ballard, on January 15, 1961. Ballard sang lead vocals on the hit “Buttered Popcorn” when she was just 17 years old. Her voice was so powerful on the track that studio engineers requested that she stand 17 feet away from the microphone while she sang. 


  • However, Ballard did sing lead parts throughout her Supremes career on several album tracks. Most famous were the second verses of “It Makes No Difference Now” from The Supremes Sing Country Western And Pop and “Ain’t That Good News” from We Remember Sam Cooke, plus the Christmas songs “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night.


  • Following her return to the world of music, Ballard was booked for several television and magazine interviews and began exploring ways to revive her career.

Just when Ballard’s life finally seemed to be on an upward swing, tragedy struck. On February 21, 1976, she was checked into Detroit’s Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital. She died the next day of a blood clot on one of her coronary arteries according to examiners. She was only 32 years old.

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