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marybrewster
08-02-2018, 08:35 AM
Okay, here we go:

I was always led to believe that Janie Bradford presented the Primettes with a list of names to choose from; Flo Ballard picked "The Supremes".

Motown Myth?

Just the other day on Facebook, Janie posted: "I knew Mary, Diane, Betty and Florence before Motown. I even named the Supremes."

RanRan79
08-02-2018, 09:13 AM
By nearly all accounts, Flo was presented with a list of names to choose from. I think only Mary wrote of Florence keeping a list of her own, which could have been true also, it's just that ultimately she chose a name from the list provided the day Flo was in the office alone. I think Janie is stretching the truth by claiming that she named the group the Supremes. Florence has always gotten credit for choosing the name. I don't think anyone can lay claim to choosing a name just because it was one of the names she wrote down on a piece of paper. Janie needs to quit it.

Circa 1824
08-02-2018, 09:15 AM
agreed, girl stop it

vgalindo
08-02-2018, 09:16 AM
Wasn't the list given to all three of them? And Florence picked the name the Supremes. Why would the list only be given to Florence?

luke
08-02-2018, 09:17 AM
Maybe Janie means she came up with the name Supremes and put it on the list.

reese
08-02-2018, 09:37 AM
Wasn't the list given to all three of them? And Florence picked the name the Supremes. Why would the list only be given to Florence?

There's so many stories floating about this one.

I thought Flo was the only one at the studio the day that the name had to be decided. Mary and Diana didn't like it, so it makes sense that they weren't around as they probably would have outvoted her.

I don't think its a big deal that Janie says she named the group. According to her, she wrote a few names on a piece of paper, and she doesn't even remember what the other names are now. I'm assuming she gave that list to Flo and that was the one Flo chose. Its just sad that none of the girls actually OWNED the name.

westgrandboulevard
08-02-2018, 09:39 AM
Yes, that's how I would imagine it went.

As can often happen, one person's suggestion (Janie B), in retrospect, then becomes someone else's idea (Flo B.)

Diana apparently disliked the name ('too masculine'?) so, to give a personal touch involving the group, Florence got the credit for it instead....

RanRan79
08-02-2018, 10:27 AM
There's so many stories floating about this one.

I thought Flo was the only one at the studio the day that the name had to be decided. Mary and Diana didn't like it, so it makes sense that they weren't around as they probably would have outvoted her.

I don't think its a big deal that Janie says she named the group. According to her, she wrote a few names on a piece of paper, and she doesn't even remember what the other names are now. I'm assuming she gave that list to Flo and that was the one Flo chose. Its just sad that none of the girls actually OWNED the name.

Yeah, I think the real story is that the girls were told to change the name. When they couldn't agree (no surprise there), time had run out. Flo was at Hitsville alone when she was told to pick a name lest one be chosen for her(them), and she chose Supremes. I think it's a big deal for someone to say they named someone something just because they put together a list. I can suggest to someone that they name their baby a certain name, but ultimately the person who should be credited for naming the baby is the person who actually names the baby. So yeah, Janie needs to have a seat. But we do thank her for providing the name as a choice. Can't imagine the Supremes being anything else.

TheMotownManiac
08-04-2018, 10:02 PM
The girls got screwed by legalese again, as I would think Flo would get some credit for choosing the name, but alas, I’m no lawyer. I don’t know why Mary thought she had more claim to the name than Diana or Flo, maybe if all three demanded ownership, Berry would have relented. I think his dislike for Mary spurred him on some to really do her rotten with the agreement.

marv2
08-04-2018, 10:17 PM
The girls got screwed by legalese again, as I would think Flo would get some credit for choosing the name, but alas, I’m no lawyer. I don’t know why Mary thought she had more claim to the name than Diana or Flo, maybe if all three demanded ownership, Berry would have relented. I think his dislike for Mary spurred him on some to really do her rotten with the agreement.

Mr. Gordy did not dislike Mary. Where did you hear that?

TheMotownManiac
08-04-2018, 10:59 PM
Oh? He didn’t? Where did you hear THAT?

midnightman
08-04-2018, 10:59 PM
Milton Jenkins named them the Primettes.

Berry Gordy, upon agreeing to sign them, forced them to change the name as he had felt either the name was too plain for them or there were too many girl groups with -ettes in their name. The truth could be somewhere in the middle. But Flo, Diana and Mary all hated that they had to change because they felt that name would get them far, in Mary's words, in Detroit.

The story goes that each girl came up with names. I'm guessing whatever name each of the girls picked prior to Janie having a list of names didn't go smoothly.

Janie is to have said that she wanted each member to be there because she had a list of names they can choose. I'm guessing Diana and Mary were busy with school work because only Florence showed up.

And Florence picked "Supremes" because she felt it was the best name in Janie's list. When she told the girls the name, Mary said she didn't like it at all and Diana worried they would be mistaken for the male vocal group with the same name (yes, there was an actual male vocal group who was using the name "Supremes" at the time!).

But Berry Gordy thought the name was "perfect" and signed them. January 15, 1961 (Florence was 17, Barbara Martin was 18, Diana and Mary were 16).

Berry and Mary definitely had issues before she left Motown in 1980 because when she tried fighting to get the name in her control, Berry wouldn't allow it since when they did sign, the contract called for the label to have ownership of the name "Supremes". At the time they were signed to Motown, name ownership was not on their minds. Three naive young girls (I don't add Barbara because she didn't really take a music career as seriously as Diana, Mary and Flo did) got taken advantage of and when they realized too late, they couldn't do anything to retain the name they made famous.

Whatever Motown decided to change the names of incoming groups, the deal was to have Motown have control of that name. The Supremes did this, the Marvelettes did it, the Temptations did it. I imagine the Velvelettes did too? Even the Jackson 5 (when they left Motown, they couldn't use "Jackson 5", so they had to be forced to be known as "The Jacksons"; despite having been "The Jackson Five" since 1965, Motown had Joseph Jackson unknowingly signing away rights to the Jackson 5 (Jackson Five, Jackson 5ive) name when the group signed on March 11, 1969).

Only other acts that didn't have that issue coming into Motown were the Four Tops (who had been "The Four Tops" since 1956, a good eight years BEFORE they got with Motown) and the Miracles (they changed their name to that in 1957 and that was a couple of years before Tamla was formed and literally were there when Motown STARTED).

Of course I'm not gonna mention Gladys Knight & the Pips and the Isley Brothers because both acts were already well established long before they ever thought of getting with Motown in the first place! Would've been really silly and stupid if Motown ever thought "let's sign their group name away".

Only group that managed to regain control of their name was the Temptations.

Other than that, until 2011, Motown owned the Marvelettes name (now it's in ownership of Gladys Horton's estate and Katherine Anderson-Schaffner). The Supremes name still remains in control of Motown.

marv2
08-04-2018, 11:03 PM
Oh? He didn’t? Where did you hear THAT?

No he didn't. Heard it from him. I told him Mary had a longer line than him for his book. He said "that's my girl. I love Mary!" He said it at New Center in Detroit with a lot of people around us. That's one example.

midnightman
08-04-2018, 11:11 PM
By nearly all accounts, Flo was presented with a list of names to choose from. I think only Mary wrote of Florence keeping a list of her own, which could have been true also, it's just that ultimately she chose a name from the list provided the day Flo was in the office alone. I think Janie is stretching the truth by claiming that she named the group the Supremes. Florence has always gotten credit for choosing the name. I don't think anyone can lay claim to choosing a name just because it was one of the names she wrote down on a piece of paper. Janie needs to quit it.

I believe the truth is each girl had names on a list. None of the names were well received and Janie came with her list that she can only reach Florence with. There was a divide in the group over the name (Mary & Diana refusing the name while Florence and Barbara loved it) before Berry became the deciding factor. I think that's how they wound up as The Supremes. We never heard from Barbara but I do believe she was okay with the Supremes being their name. If she hadn't, we POSSIBLY wouldn't have had a Supremes!

Ironically we can't thank Flo all the way for this, Berry Gordy might be the one we have to thank for how a group called the Primettes became THE SUPREMES.

marybrewster
08-05-2018, 01:37 AM
I guess I'll never understand how Flo supposedly could never mention that she was a Supreme. I guess I can understand Motown owning the name "Supremes", but not being able to say you were a member is ridiculous.

Boogiedown
08-05-2018, 02:21 AM
How many names were on this list? If there were four , Janie Bradford can take more credit. If there were fifty , not so much.

marv2
08-05-2018, 11:31 AM
I guess I'll never understand how Flo supposedly could never mention that she was a Supreme. I guess I can understand Motown owning the name "Supremes", but not being able to say you were a member is ridiculous.

It was intended to create further hardship for Florence Ballard. Mentally and financially.

luke
08-05-2018, 11:35 AM
Very cruel indeed. Can people really be stopped from saying “Fomerly of ...”??

marv2
08-05-2018, 11:45 AM
Very cruel indeed. Can people really be stopped from saying “Fomerly of ...”??

I am not sure if they would hold up in court being that it was a fact that Florence Ballard was a Supreme, the original Supreme and was then "Formerly of the Supremes". I believe that could have been one of the things she could have fought and won in court if she could have afforded to do that.

marv2
08-05-2018, 11:47 AM
Very cruel indeed. Can people really be stopped from saying “Fomerly of ...”??

Here is an interesting tidbit. One of the first celebrities that help Florence a bit financially was Eddie Kendricks of the Temptations.

marv2
08-05-2018, 11:48 AM
How many names were on this list? If there were four , Janie Bradford can take more credit. If there were fifty , not so much.

No one remembers really.

milven
08-05-2018, 12:14 PM
I couldn't find it on a search, but I remember reading that the Temptations signed away future royalties in order for them to retain their name at Atlantic. Fact, Fiction or my possible senitlity?

midnightman
08-05-2018, 12:14 PM
Very cruel indeed. Can people really be stopped from saying “Fomerly of ...”??

I would state that in settlement negotiations, she probably allowed it. Flo at that time probably didn't want to be associated with the Supremes. She even told Peter Benjaminson when she asked if she could revisit those years, she said something to the effect of "what if I go back and the same thing happened again?" She was probably happy to get out there as FLORENCE BALLARD, as opposed to "the former member of the Supremes" though she remained proud in pride of what she accomplished as a member and wished her old friends well.

midnightman
08-05-2018, 12:16 PM
I couldn't find it on a search, but I remember reading that the Temptations signed away future royalties in order for them to retain their name at Atlantic. Fact, Fiction or my possible senitlity?

That might have been the case. It wouldn't surprise me! Then they had to return to Motown in 1980. I wonder how the new contract went! The Atlantic years (1977-79) were pretty dark ones for the Tempts.

midnightman
08-05-2018, 12:17 PM
I guess I'll never understand how Flo supposedly could never mention that she was a Supreme. I guess I can understand Motown owning the name "Supremes", but not being able to say you were a member is ridiculous.

I recall reading an EBONY article from 1968 or 1969 where they mentioned she was formerly of the Supremes so I'm calling that part of the story a big fat MYTH.

luke
08-05-2018, 12:18 PM
I have never heard that the Temotations signed away their royalties.

midnightman
08-05-2018, 12:32 PM
Hmm, so we can dead that thought that the Temptations signed their life royalties then...

Otis and Melvin must've had a very stern negotiator to get Berry and Shelley to agree to let them go with their name and royalties then...

marv2
08-05-2018, 01:28 PM
I would state that in settlement negotiations, she probably allowed it. Flo at that time probably didn't want to be associated with the Supremes. She even told Peter Benjaminson when she asked if she could revisit those years, she said something to the effect of "what if I go back and the same thing happened again?" She was probably happy to get out there as FLORENCE BALLARD, as opposed to "the former member of the Supremes" though she remained proud in pride of what she accomplished as a member and wished her old friends well.

She didn't allow it........they told her! The situation was either you agree to these terms or you get no money! She did not simply wish her old friends well. She was angry over what was done to her. That is the normal human reaction. I remember reading where Mary called her one day and Flo said something about not wanting to hear old Supremes records and that she was listening to the Jackson 5! She said it like..."so there!" LOL! My friend Al Abrams tried helping her get bookings and it was tough because they could not use the fact that she was a former Supreme in her billing.

marv2
08-05-2018, 01:29 PM
I couldn't find it on a search, but I remember reading that the Temptations signed away future royalties in order for them to retain their name at Atlantic. Fact, Fiction or my possible senitlity?

Motown was always trying to get departing artists to give up their future royalties, so I would not say that it wasn't possible.

marv2
08-05-2018, 01:31 PM
I recall reading an EBONY article from 1968 or 1969 where they mentioned she was formerly of the Supremes so I'm calling that part of the story a big fat MYTH.

It was no myth. Florence was barred by a legal agreement from billing herself as "Formerly of the Supremes". What you saw in Ebony was a decision by a writer to put that in there. Motown could forbid Florence from referring to herself as a Former Supreme, but they could not forbid the World from viewing her as a Former Supreme! It was a well known fact!

marv2
08-05-2018, 01:35 PM
Hmm, so we can dead that thought that the Temptations signed their life royalties then...

Otis and Melvin must've had a very stern negotiator to get Berry and Shelley to agree to let them go with their name and royalties then...


Yeah, he was called "Smokey Robinson"! Smokey was the one instrumental in getting the Temptations authorization to leave with their name. After which, Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin had the name trademarked. Many artists did not know that Motown did not legally own their names. When the Jackson's were leaving Motown, Berry went and had the name "Jackson 5" trademarked so that they could not use it after they went to Epic. He used that as a club in an attempt to get them to stay at Motown. It was ugly. LOL!

marv2
08-05-2018, 01:37 PM
Hmm, so we can dead that thought that the Temptations signed their life royalties then...

Otis and Melvin must've had a very stern negotiator to get Berry and Shelley to agree to let them go with their name and royalties then...

When Diane left, they would have tried to keep her name "Diana Ross" if they could. They couldn't because it was her legal name. So to punish her, they took everything else! The car, the house, the furs, jewelry.........all of it they claimed was just loaned to her from the company! LOL!!!!1

Boogiedown
08-05-2018, 01:59 PM
No one remembers really.

Would be fascinating to see that list.
I wonder what names Flo had to choose from , what ones she turned down.
"Supremes " seems so perfect.

Roberta75
08-05-2018, 03:14 PM
When Diane left, they would have tried to keep her name "Diana Ross" if they could. They couldn't because it was her legal name. So to punish her, they took everything else! The car, the house, the furs, jewelry.........all of it they claimed was just loaned to her from the company! LOL!!!!1

And she picked up a check for $20 million from RCA so I guess Diane got the last laugh. Hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe

TheMotownManiac
08-05-2018, 04:02 PM
No he didn't. Heard it from him. I told him Mary had a longer line than him for his book. He said "that's my girl. I love Mary!" He said it at New Center in Detroit with a lot of people around us. That's one example.

Interesting story. You’re talking to BG and what you have to say is how long the lines were? And his reply ‘that’s my girl, I love Mary” ? Sometimes I think your memory gets suggestions from your psyche, but, assuming it did happen as described, what BG is going to say to a total stranger VS what he’d say to a Supreme and do that causes two Supremes to say he didn’t like her are two different things. He also told her she couldn’t sing, was a stupid woman and the like - and that was to her face.

Also:

Had to be begged and pleaded by Gil and Diana to get her spot in People and then her own solos.
Washed his hands of JMC cuz of Mary
Terminated her contract in ‘73 over the name ownership, thereby keeping the group in limbo for two years that they never recovered from, then screwed her over big time with the agreement.
Banned her from future Motown specials
Barely spoke to her at Walk Of Fame
Did not invite her onstage at Motown The Musical

Just to name a few——that ain’t love, Marvin! LOL!!!!!!

TheMotownManiac
08-05-2018, 04:09 PM
It was intended to create further hardship for Florence Ballard. Mentally and financially.

‘That’s nuts. It was to keep the publicity to a minnimum by having her not talk about why she left, dirt etc. it sucked big-time, but she agreed to it, it’s not Berry’s fault - it’s hers. There was no concerted effort to hurt Flo mentally or financially - there was no reason to. It was all done to keep the machine cranking out dollars. Period. Everything he did was for a dollar. Quite an avoricious man for such humble beginnings. I bet Pops Gordy got more Supremes money than Flo ever did. He fucked them all, but they let him.

TheMotownManiac
08-05-2018, 04:10 PM
I recall reading an EBONY article from 1968 or 1969 where they mentioned she was formerly of the Supremes so I'm calling that part of the story a big fat MYTH.
FLO couldn’t say it - but others could.

midnightman
08-05-2018, 05:39 PM
It's funny how in one instance Berry loved the girls but hated them too. WHICH ONE IS IT!? LOL

I think it's clear Berry didn't love them by the way. And the girls didn't have parents who checked BG at all (besides Diana's mom Ernestine in some instances but she, like Mary's mom and Flo's mom, didn't know jack about business).

midnightman
08-05-2018, 05:42 PM
FLO couldn’t say it - but others could.

That would seem odd to do. If she couldn't say it, EBONY couldn't. Head-scratcher there.

vgalindo
08-05-2018, 06:11 PM
That would seem odd to do. If she couldn't say it, EBONY couldn't. Head-scratcher there.
I am guessing anyone could say she was a former member of the Supremes. Flo probably could say it too but I think legally she signed away her rights to say it when billing or promoting herself for a gig or performance. She couldn't be promoted as a former member of the Supremes.

TheMotownManiac
08-05-2018, 06:11 PM
Ebony didn’t agree to anything - only Flo did.

TheMotownManiac
08-05-2018, 07:14 PM
She didn't allow it........they told her! The situation was either you agree to these turns or you get no money! She did not simply wish her old friends well. She was angry over what was done to her. That is the normal human reaction. I remember reading where Mary called her one day and Flo said something about not wanting to hear old Supremes records and that she was listening to the Jackson 5! She said it like..."so there!" LOL! My friend Al Abrams tried helping her get bookings and it was tough because they could not use the fact that she was a former Supreme in her billing.

If Flo had an honest, decent attorney, that claus would not have been agreed to so easily - if at all. Remember, all this shyster wanted was cash he could steal - he was not looking out for Flo’s best interest and Mike Roshkind TOLD her it was a bad deal. This is, sadly, all on Flo. Motown wasn’t out to break Flo - her atty was - AND DID!

midnightman
08-05-2018, 07:35 PM
I am guessing anyone could say she was a former member of the Supremes. Flo probably could say it too but I think legally she signed away her rights to say it when billing or promoting herself for a gig or performance. She couldn't be promoted as a former member of the Supremes.

OK, I got it. I'm guessing that's why neither Eddie Kendricks or David Ruffin left Motown IMMEDIATELY after leaving the Temptations... THEN AGAIN, maybe Flo's attorney was effin' stupid and told her to agree to not legally call herself a former Supreme. UGH, she had no one to back her up, did she?!

marv2
08-05-2018, 07:53 PM
OK, I got it. I'm guessing that's why neither Eddie Kendricks or David Ruffin left Motown IMMEDIATELY after leaving the Temptations... THEN AGAIN, maybe Flo's attorney was effin' stupid and told her to agree to not legally call herself a former Supreme. UGH, she had no one to back her up, did she?!

She did not have an attorney present when she signed her release/settlement documents with Michael Roshkind. You have to understand, for most of the early, classic Motown artists they were told by Berry Gordy "Don't worry about anything. I will always take care of you........" It sounds stupid now, but they actually believed it! He did little things for them like paying for Florence's funeral and bailing Eddie Kendricks out of jail when he was arrested for back child support in 1991 at David Ruffin's funeral. He did those things because he surely did not make sure they got the actual money that they earned while working for Motown.

RanRan79
08-06-2018, 10:46 AM
I recall reading an EBONY article from 1968 or 1969 where they mentioned she was formerly of the Supremes so I'm calling that part of the story a big fat MYTH.

Yes, anyone could write about Florence being a former Supreme. Florence could not bill herself as a former member (i.e. the marquee reading Florence Ballard Formerly of the Supremes, or The Supremes' Flo Ballard) nor could her paid publicity state she was a former member, which is why Al Abrams' press releases for her were generically worded as Flo once being a member of the world's most successful singing trio, rather than saying Flo was once a member of the Supremes. Florence signed away her rights to that name in every way.

RanRan79
08-06-2018, 10:55 AM
‘That’s nuts. It was to keep the publicity to a minnimum by having her not talk about why she left, dirt etc. it sucked big-time, but she agreed to it, it’s not Berry’s fault - it’s hers. There was no concerted effort to hurt Flo mentally or financially - there was no reason to.

You don't require people sign away royalties unless you hope to hurt them financially. Gordy knew there was money in royalties- especially if anything from the can was released with Flo's voice on it, such as what happened on every DRATS album released after Flo left except Love Child and the Tempts duets. You don't require someone to not be able to publicize they were a member of the Supremes- nearly a decade's worth of work- unless you hope to hit them in the pocket and stifle any future earning potential. Barring Florence from using the name Supremes to capitalize on a solo career did not stop publications like Ebony and others from writing about the fact that Florence was a former member of the Supremes and was now embarking on a solo career. Whatever dirt being talked about was already being talked about even before Florence left the group and certainly didn't stop it, so this stipulation of the release agreement could only serve as a way to stick it to Flo. If Gordy feared the behind the scenes drama becoming public by a disgruntled Florence, his legal team would've included a confidentiality agreement, which they didn't, and so wouldn't have prevented Florence from talking about being a Supreme while also going out for a solo career.

RanRan79
08-06-2018, 10:58 AM
It's funny how in one instance Berry loved the girls but hated them too. WHICH ONE IS IT!? LOL

I think it's clear Berry didn't love them by the way. And the girls didn't have parents who checked BG at all (besides Diana's mom Ernestine in some instances but she, like Mary's mom and Flo's mom, didn't know jack about business).

When did Ernestine ever check Berry? I've always wondered how differently would Gordy have treated the girls if Mr. Ballard had still been alive and Mr. Wilson had still been alive and actively involved in her life. Fred was around, but we know how his relationship with Diana was, which I've always said was one of the main reasons Diana flocked to Gordy in the first place: he was an older man giving her the attention and praise her daddy didn't give her.

RanRan79
08-06-2018, 10:59 AM
That would seem odd to do. If she couldn't say it, EBONY couldn't. Head-scratcher there.

Florence signed a legally binding agreement not to promote herself as a former Supreme. Ebony and other publications were under no such legal agreement and could say whatever they wanted.

RanRan79
08-06-2018, 11:04 AM
OK, I got it. I'm guessing that's why neither Eddie Kendricks or David Ruffin left Motown IMMEDIATELY after leaving the Temptations... THEN AGAIN, maybe Flo's attorney was effin' stupid and told her to agree to not legally call herself a former Supreme. UGH, she had no one to back her up, did she?!

He wasn't an attorney who specialized in entertainment law, and that's who Florence needed to negotiate her release. A good entertainment lawyer would have never allowed her to sign away her ability to capitalize off of nearly a decade's worth of work nor would have allowed her to sign away her royalties. Despite this idea presented in the thread that Flo was some dummy just signing away her rights, there's a reason why people pay lawyers to handle these things. Florence did what the lawyer told her to do. She trusted him to steer her right and unfortunately wound up in a horrible position. Bad legal advice. She wasn't dumb. This wasn't her fault.

midnightman
08-06-2018, 12:04 PM
When did Ernestine ever check Berry? I've always wondered how differently would Gordy have treated the girls if Mr. Ballard had still been alive and Mr. Wilson had still been alive and actively involved in her life. Fred was around, but we know how his relationship with Diana was, which I've always said was one of the main reasons Diana flocked to Gordy in the first place: he was an older man giving her the attention and praise her daddy didn't give her.

I'm just guessing. She was around them. I saw it in a few EBONY pics. She was probably the only mother of the Supremes' members to be there.

midnightman
08-06-2018, 12:06 PM
Yes, anyone could write about Florence being a former Supreme. Florence could not bill herself as a former member (i.e. the marquee reading Florence Ballard Formerly of the Supremes, or The Supremes' Flo Ballard) nor could her paid publicity state she was a former member, which is why Al Abrams' press releases for her were generically worded as Flo once being a member of the world's most successful singing trio, rather than saying Flo was once a member of the Supremes. Florence signed away her rights to that name in every way.

And that was all because she hired a dummy that didn't think of her rights... shameful. It wasn't her fault but damn... I wished she had listened to Michael... :/