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  1. #1

    Was Flo Ballard's death Motown's biggest EVER heartbreak?

    I know this belongs in DRATS, but still.


    MJ and others may have been bigger, but Flo is (arguably) sadder since she never had a successful solo #1 single in Motown's golden age or any music history?

  2. #2
    I will always feel sad for Florence Ballard.

  3. #3
    First of all, IMO, it’s dangerous to have this here rather than the DRATS section. Respectfully, may be you should have renamed this to “The Motown Artist Whose Death Made the Biggest Heartbreak.”

    Still, although hers was tragic and truly sad, I would not elevate her death any more heart breaking than such artists as Paul Williams and David Ruffin.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by IMissFlo93 View Post
    I know this belongs in DRATS, but still.


    MJ and others may have been bigger, but Flo is (arguably) sadder since she never had a successful solo #1 single in Motown's golden age or any music history?
    I don't know, but I know you know that this is suppose go in the DRATS sub-forum. You've posted there before.

  5. #5
    Only to HER fans....fans of other performers feel the same about their favorites.

  6. #6
    I won't get into the "which forum" discussion but will instead caution everyone that this has the potential to be a topic that could get out of control because everyone will stand up for their favorite and people will accuse one another of being insensitive.

    Having said that, if I had to pick a most heartbreaking Motown death, it would have to be Tammi Terrell because she was so young and really just scratching the surface of her full potential. Marvin would be a close second because any death from gun violence is so senseless.

  7. #7
    I don't think so..lucy gordy's may have been sadder.

  8. #8
    Mary Wells, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Levi Stubbs, Edwin Starr, Tammi Terrell, Marvin Gaye, Funk Brothers, Jr Walker, Jimmy Ruffin, Syretta and countless others are sorely missed by their fans and families. No one should be singled out or left out!

  9. #9
    Well. We now have the most distasteful and most immaterial thread ever. Next?

  10. #10
    Motown had a whole bunch of tragic deaths...

  11. #11
    plz close this thread ralph. I am sorry for making a pointless thread.

  12. #12
    I would say that losing Shorty Long and Tammi Terrell within 9 months of each other was really heartbreaking. They were both young and at the height of their success. I’m sure Florence’s demise had a profound effect on the label as well. But she hadn’t been signed with Motown for eight years at that point.

  13. #13
    Let's not forget Paul Williams. He was a great Temptations member IMO.

  14. #14
    MissFlo:

    I am sure your heart was in the right place but the point is that it should not be a competition to decide if one death was more significant than another. I think this thread may be OK and can be left alone if it is just used for the purpose of helping one another remember the ones we have lost and to speak fondly of those artists.

  15. #15
    I am sorry, but at least what I from have read and the UNSUNG episode, by the seventies, Florence Ballard was an afterthought and largely forgotten, other than a news clip and a concert that attempted to bring her back into public relevance, right at the very end.

  16. #16
    I think the thread has relevance and can stand for the time being Miss Flo. However, please mind what forum you are posting in.

  17. #17
    I don't believe that any one death is more tragic than the other, as many of the performers mentioned in this thread had very sad ends. But I think what makes Flo's story stand out is it really has all the character of an epic tragedy. The talented singer who is always in the background, the attention to the lead singer, the ouster (albeit a lot of it was her fault I'm sure) from the group, then the decline. The failure to find a footing after Motown, the personal failures from the lawsuit and financial troubles, even going on welfare for a time. All of it so sad.

    I remember once, years ago, playing a Supremes album with a friend, and her daughter who was maybe 7 or 8 at the time, heard us talking about Flo and how she had died. The little girl got very upset, and I remember she started to cry and said "I didn't think pretty girls died." That was a heartbreaker.

  18. #18
    I still remember the night that the news of Florence Ballard's death came across the late news on WJBK Detroit TV 2 that Sunday night. It hit us like a pile of bricks had fell on us. My brother and I just looked at each other, didn't say a word and just turned the television off and went to bed. The next day in school that is all everyone was talking about.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Ngroove View Post
    I am sorry, but at least what I from have read and the UNSUNG episode, by the seventies, Florence Ballard was an afterthought and largely forgotten, other than a news clip and a concert that attempted to bring her back into public relevance, right at the very end.
    Most people forgot about Florence until she died. Even now, a random person won't know who she is. It all had to do with her career and personal issues.

    I would argue among Motown's fallen legends that Tammi Terrell's, Marvin Gaye's, Paul Williams' and Bobby DeBarge's deaths were the most tragic.

    The big reason Flo's death is tragic besides from missing out on a third chance in the music industry was she died way too young.

  20. #20
    While I'll always remember and miss Flo Ballard, I agree with the other posters who feel that all of the artists from Motown who died far too young are equally heartbreaking.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    While I'll always remember and miss Flo Ballard, I agree with the other posters who feel that all of the artists from Motown who died far too young are equally heartbreaking.
    So will I Motown Eddie!

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    I still remember the night that the news of Florence Ballard's death came across the late news on WJBK Detroit TV 2 that Sunday night. It hit us like a pile of bricks had fell on us. My brother and I just looked at each other, didn't say a word and just turned the television off and went to bed. The next day in school that is all everyone was talking about.
    Marv my mom just looked at me with “that look”. I fig a family member passed away..... a few secs later... bam with the horrible news. I remember the moms on the street were talking about it outside on the sidewalk over the course of a few days. So sad. And by all reports, she was working on her comeback. One of the ladies who was helping Flo rehearse in her basement recently passed away. (She did some work with BT Express out of NYC). She wouldn’t talk too much abt Flo’s situation. Sometimes she would tear up and stop the convo. She said there are somethings abt Flo’s situation she would never talk about.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by detmotownguy View Post
    Marv my mom just looked at me with “that look”. I fig a family member passed away..... a few secs later... bam with the horrible news. I remember the moms on the street were talking about it outside on the sidewalk over the course of a few days. So sad. And by all reports, she was working on her comeback. One of the ladies who was helping Flo rehearse in her basement recently passed away. (She did some work with BT Express out of NYC). She wouldn’t talk too much abt Flo’s situation. Sometimes she would tear up and stop the convo. She said there are somethings abt Flo’s situation she would never talk about.
    Oh man, in a way it did feel like a family member. I remember right after the blunt news on television, the days leading up to Flo's funeral there were radio tributes on several stations. I remember WXYZ Channel 7 showing footage of the funeral. It was a strangely warm day for February in our part of the country. I was raking leaves because there was no snow on the ground that day.

  24. #24
    Marv check your email please.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by detmotownguy View Post
    Marv check your email please.
    Sure thing DET.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Oh man, in a way it did feel like a family member. I remember right after the blunt news on television, the days leading up to Flo's funeral there were radio tributes on several stations. I remember WXYZ Channel 7 showing footage of the funeral. It was a strangely warm day for February in our part of the country. I was raking leaves because there was no snow on the ground that day.
    I still have the Detroit Free Press article somewhere about the funeral. I think the headline was something like "Florence Ballard at Center Stage for the Last Time".

    Mary Wilson wore the same cloche (?) type hat to the funeral which she is wearing on the back of the "High Energy" album. I think that's what that type of hat is called.

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    Last edited by kenneth; 09-16-2019 at 04:13 PM.

  27. #27
    Yep Kenneth, it was awful. I was in high school when it happened. I still have the Jet Magazine and the obituary from the local paper. There were 2,000 inside the church (New Bethel Baptist) and another 5-6,000 people outside on the streets surrounding the church. Rev. C.L. Franklin delivered the eulogy. Stevie Wonder was an honorary pallbearer. The Four Tops, Marv Johnson, Nat McKalpain and one of Flo's brothers were pallbearers. There was a huge amount of drama (and kaos) surrounding the funeral.
    Last edited by marv2; 09-17-2019 at 03:25 PM.

  28. #28
    @marv2, do you know if Aretha attended? I forgot that CL Franklin gave the eulogy.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    @marv2, do you know if Aretha attended? I forgot that CL Franklin gave the eulogy.
    Aretha was out of town, but she sent a telegram that was read by her father during services. She said that she held Florence in very high esteem. Carolyn and Erma Franklin, The Vandellas, Marvelettes and a host of other Motown people were there though.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Aretha was out of town, but she sent a telegram that was read by her father during services. She said that she held Florence in very high esteem. Carolyn and Erma Franklin, The Vandellas, Marvelettes and a host of other Motown people were there though.
    Wow, Carolyn too? She died pretty young herself so she must not have lived much longer after that. I loved her albums. She was different enough from Aretha to be appreciated on her own, whereas to me Erma sounded a little too much like her more famous sister.

    I would have loved to hear CL Franklin's eulogy.

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    Wow, Carolyn too? She died pretty young herself so she must not have lived much longer after that. I loved her albums. She was different enough from Aretha to be appreciated on her own, whereas to me Erma sounded a little too much like her more famous sister.

    I would have loved to hear CL Franklin's eulogy.
    Carolyn died in 1988 of breast cancer. Rev. Franklin lit the place up that day from what I heard!

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Carolyn died in 1988 of breast cancer. Rev. Franklin lit the place up that day from what I heard!
    You know, he was recorded so prolifically I wonder if anyone might have recorded CL Franklin at the funeral. Of course, nowadays everything is recorded but back then, not so much.

    I remember when I would go to Federal's at Grand River and Oakman (you remember Federal's I'm sure) they had entire bins of his albums. They all had almost the same cover design, but I think there were likely close to 100 different albums of Rev. Franklin.

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    You know, he was recorded so prolifically I wonder if anyone might have recorded CL Franklin at the funeral. Of course, nowadays everything is recorded but back then, not so much.

    I remember when I would go to Federal's at Grand River and Oakman (you remember Federal's I'm sure) they had entire bins of his albums. They all had almost the same cover design, but I think there were likely close to 100 different albums of Rev. Franklin.
    Kenneth of course I remember Federals! They were the king of dept stores at one time (sorry Hudson's LOL). Rev. Franklin was known as "The Man with The Golden Voice" and was probably the most recorded clergyman in history aside from Bishop Sheen.

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Kenneth of course I remember Federals! They were the king of dept stores at one time (sorry Hudson's LOL). Rev. Franklin was known as "The Man with The Golden Voice" and was probably the most recorded clergyman in history aside from Bishop Sheen.
    I worked at the Federal's at 6 Mile and Schaefer when I was in High School, in the shoe department. It was in the basement right near the record dept., so I would always wander over and browse. I think at the time albums were $3.72 or something like that!

    I would always try to get the 15% employee discount but they would always say, "You don't get that because the records are always discounted!" But I would try anyway!

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    I worked at the Federal's at 6 Mile and Schaefer when I was in High School, in the shoe department. It was in the basement right near the record dept., so I would always wander over and browse. I think at the time albums were $3.72 or something like that!

    I would always try to get the 15% employee discount but they would always say, "You don't get that because the records are always discounted!" But I would try anyway!
    You were in a good spot in your store. I worked in a dept store for a short time in college. Only thing close to me was housewares. I remember the night all store employees and customers gathered in the television dept to watch the "Who Shot JR" episode of "Dallas" LOL!

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    I still have the Detroit Free Press article somewhere about the funeral. I think the headline was something like "Florence Ballard at Center Stage for the Last Time".

    Mary Wilson wore the same cloche (?) type hat to the funeral which she is wearing on the back of the "High Energy" album. I think that's what that type of hat is called.

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    I remember that Soul article. That pic of Mary still jags me, she looks so forlorn. If you have the Detroit Free Press article, please post it.

    ‘’All Of The Motown deaths are sad, but Marvin, Flo and Paul hit me hardest.

  37. #37
    This is Florence's Funeral Program:

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  38. #38
    Thanks for posting the funeral program, Marv. Very touching.

    @TheMotownManiac, I will see if I can find the Free Press article in my files and post it.

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    Thanks for posting the funeral program, Marv. Very touching.

    @TheMotownManiac, I will see if I can find the Free Press article in my files and post it.
    You are most welcome Kenneth. It was just awful. If you keep in mind that Florence was just 32 years old with small children, it was extremely sad.

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