Peter Benjaminson works as a state labor
standards investigator in Manhattan. He’s also one of PEF’s
talented members who has penned several books. One of them,
“The Lost Supreme,” has received two thumbs up from prominent
music and book critics across the country.
The story of
how Benjaminson came to write about the life of “The Lost
Supreme,” Florence Ballard, is just as fascinating as the book
Back in the 1960s, The Supremes were dominating
the music charts with number one hits. Benjaminson was working
as a reporter for the Detroit Free Press. His editor told him
one of The Supremes, Ballard, had tumbled from super-star
status to a welfare recipient. He jumped at the opportunity to
tell her story.
It turned out Ballard had a lot of
highs and lows in her life.
Benjaminson’s story about her
earned worldwide attention and resulted in an outpouring of
generosity from fans. And Benjaminson earned her trust and
Ballard wanted her story told, and Benjaminson
was the man for the job. He spent eight hours with her, taping
the interviews. Ballard died in 1976, and Benjaminson tried to
interest publishers in her life story. But the publishers were
more interested in Benjaminson writing about the famed Motown
Record Company. His book, “The Story of Motown” was published
in 1979 by Grove Press.
Thirty years later, and
prompted by the Dreamgirls movie which was tailored after
Diana Ross and The Supremes, publishers were ready for
“There was finally a fresh
whirlwind of fascination in the life and career of Flo, whose
full story had not yet been told,” Benjaminson
book was published in 2008 by Lawrence Hill Books and a
paperback version came out in 2009. It inspired the television
producers of “Unsung” on TV One to contact Benjaminson and
feature him in a program about Ballard’s life that aired three
times last year.
“That was a great experience because
Flo didn’t get the credit she deserved when she was alive,”
Now, he is working on a third book
about Motown, a biography of Mary Wells, Motown’s first big
star, who sang “My Guy.”
Benjaminson didn’t have the
opportunity to interview Wells, but someone else did and gave
him the tapes to use for his upcoming book.
being a writer and getting published requires
“You have to keep pounding away at things.
It took 32 years for “The Lost Supreme” to get published. I am
very pleased it finally worked out.”
Benjaminson also co-authored “Investigative
Reporting” in 1976 which was in print for more than 20
He penned “Secret Police” in 1997 after working
as the public relations official for the New York City
Department of Investigation (DOI) during the administration of
Mayor David Dinkins. It’s a breezy review of what he considers
some of the DOI’s most interesting cases.
also wrote “Death in The Afternoon: America’s Newspaper Giants
Struggle For Survival” and “Publish Without