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  1. #1

    PODCAST: Peter Benjaminson discussing Florence Ballard

    Hi, Everyone.
    Here's a recent interview with Peter Benjaminson from the LET IT ROLL podcast.
    There's nothing new to be learned here. Nevertheless, it might be of interest to some of you.

    Let Motown Roll 1: Florence Ballard formed the Supremes and paid the ultimate price
    58 minutes / Aug 21, 2023

    SHOW NOTES:
    Host Nate Wilcox welcomes Peter Benjaminson to discuss his book "The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard." Peter opens up about Florence Ballard, her lead role in forming the Supremes, how she lost out to Diana Ross in the fight to be the lead vocalist, got pushed out of the group at the height of their fame and died young and broke in Detroit.

    https://podbay.fm/p/let-it-roll/e/1692637200

  2. #2
    Peter opens up about Florence Ballard, her lead role in forming the Supremes, how she lost out to Diana Ross in the fight to be the lead vocalist, got pushed out of the group at the height of their fame and died young and broke in Detroit.

    This tells me enough to not bother listening.

  3. #3
    I know the date says 2023 but I wonder if this really is a recent thing. With that tagline, seems like it would be something to promote the book when it was new. Maybe it's getting a re-release. Benjaminson was supposed to be releasing the full tapes. That was years ago and there hasn't been anything. I'd rather hear those than PB going on a Ross bashing tour.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    Here we go again with Flo the victim narrative.

    She was an employee of Motown Records. Sh f*cked up repeatedly and was warned. She didn’t change, and was justifiably fired. Period.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Circa 1824 View Post
    Here we go again with Flo the victim narrative.

    She was an employee of Motown Records. Sh f*cked up repeatedly and was warned. She didn’t change, and was justifiably fired. Period.
    Exactly...the only unfair event I see not of her own doing was signing away royalty payments...that was unfortunate. She should have had lifetime income on recording royalties for songs / LP's she is present on.

    Seems since the Dreamgirls legend more people unfairly demonize both Berry and Diana...what was Berry supposed to do? Tell her I'm sorry the plans I have upset you. Let me rethink them and see if I can come up with something that keeps you happy? Allowing Florence to remain and continue after disrespecting "and standing up" to Berry, resenting Diana's role and being a liability to the Supremes would have opened up a can of worms for potential behavior / image problems for every other performer on the label....
    Florence had a large family....did anyone pull her aside and try to make her realize she was jeopardizing the gravy train? or did they also overestimate her importance and ability? She did have volume in her vocals...that can't be denied..but that doesn't make someone a good singer or performer the public will embrace.

  6. #6
    Mental health is never as straightforward. Flo had a lot of demons that effected how she viewed the outside world. I guess to some she had no right to feel resentful towards either Berry or Diana, but i think the situation, and in particular her relationship with Gordy was a lot more complex then that.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    Exactly...the only unfair event I see not of her own doing was signing away royalty payments...that was unfortunate. She should have had lifetime income on recording royalties for songs / LP's she is present on.

    Seems since the Dreamgirls legend more people unfairly demonize both Berry and Diana...what was Berry supposed to do? Tell her I'm sorry the plans I have upset you. Let me rethink them and see if I can come up with something that keeps you happy? Allowing Florence to remain and continue after disrespecting "and standing up" to Berry, resenting Diana's role and being a liability to the Supremes would have opened up a can of worms for potential behavior / image problems for every other performer on the label....
    Florence had a large family....did anyone pull her aside and try to make her realize she was jeopardizing the gravy train? or did they also overestimate her importance and ability? She did have volume in her vocals...that can't be denied..but that doesn't make someone a good singer or performer the public will embrace.
    Berry was supposed to make sure that no one's dream was squashed in making Diana's dream come true. How about making each singer feel appreciated? How about not intentionally antagonizing her about her weight or even the fact that she didn't graduate from high school, even when he also did not graduate?

    Florence was a damn good singer. Whether or not she was everyone's cup of tea is how the fandom goes. Diana was also a damn good singer, but the slightest online examination of any forum where she comes up reveals that there are a lot of people who don't feel that way. Florence's issues in the group was never one where she overestimated her importance or her ability, as if she was throwing tantrums because she deserved to be lead singer.

    Florence wanted equal treatment and respect. She wanted the group to remain a group, not be the Andantes to Diana Ross [[in a manner of speaking). It's like starting a business with two other people with the same vision and then somewhere along the way someone else comes in, changes the vision, marginalizes your role and then people expect you to be okay with it. Yeah right.

    Flo ultimately had to go in order to keep this thing moving along, but don't get it twisted: if Gordy had actually taken the time to ensure that all the girls were happy, even as his plans for Diana went full steam ahead, the original trio could have stayed together. Florence was beloved by fans then and now. Her talent is very well respected beyond being "loud" and "full".

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    Mental health is never as straightforward. Flo had a lot of demons that effected how she viewed the outside world. I guess to some she had no right to feel resentful towards either Berry or Diana, but i think the situation, and in particular her relationship with Gordy was a lot more complex then that.
    As far as I can tell, for some, the only people in the Motown story who are ever allowed negative feelings are Berry Gordy and Diana Ross. No one else is allowed to be human for some reason.

  9. #9
    Florence also "had" to be fired...if she left on her own, she would have experienced a lawsuit and legal issues that could tie up her starting a solo career for a very long time.

    I love her lead on Good News....and her part in the shared lead of Eight Days a Week [[that is my fav original trio performance) . I have her ABC LP on CD....a few of the tracks I enjoy a lot....

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    Florence also "had" to be fired...if she left on her own, she would have experienced a lawsuit and legal issues that could tie up her starting a solo career for a very long time.

    I love her lead on Good News....and her part in the shared lead of Eight Days a Week [[that is my fav original trio performance) . I have her ABC LP on CD....a few of the tracks I enjoy a lot....
    Yes, she was not in a position to ask to be let out of her contract. It sucks that no level headed person was apparently in a position to have Berry and Florence have a meeting of the minds about the group. While I'll always give Cindy the respect she deserves for stepping into Flo's shoes and bringing her own "it" factor to the group, after Flo, and the change to the Diana Ross and the Supremes show, a lot of the magic was gone. [[Although the choreography, with Cindy being a better dancer than Florence, was the one positive change, IMO.)

  11. #11
    I became a fan of the group around the time of TCB / Love Child....so I am very partial to Cindy....she is my favorite Supreme partner with Mary in any line up w/ Diana Ross, Jean Terrell and Scherrie Payne.

  12. #12
    in the end, Flo had serious demons. so much so that when she was a solo act, it fell apart. and after that, she was pretty much incapable of pulling her life together. yes she had terrible things occur to her professionally - some of her own doing and some due to other people and situations. but what's clear is that she was incapable of mentally dealing with these problems.

    flo was hardly the first person to be fired from a job, lose their money, struggle, etc. But one of the key differences are the emotional and mental issues she was apparently struggling with. most likely heavily influenced by the rape but then again, there could be other things too. having not had access to proper, professional mental health care, we'll never know really. lots of people find fame but find that it doesn't bring them happiness. even if she hadn't had the rape, perhaps she might have struggled with other issues. very hard, if not impossible, to tell.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    I became a fan of the group around the time of TCB / Love Child....so I am very partial to Cindy....she is my favorite Supreme partner with Mary in any line up w/ Diana Ross, Jean Terrell and Scherrie Payne.
    I love Cindy Birdsong. my favorite Supreme after Diana Ross. I think that brutal rape tortured Florence. I only wish it wasnt such a taboo subject back then. Society darned near blamed the girl/woman. There were no support groups for abused women and im sure very little therapy available. The woman was rarely believed and often questioned if they provoked the violent act of rape. You can blame Berry or Diana or Mary or Motown but I believe that brutal rape was the main root of all Flos problems.

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