The Lost Supreme

SOON TO BE A MOTION PICTURE starring Terry Dexter as The Lost Supreme and Jon Heder as Author Peter Benjaminson. Based on extensive interviews with Florence Ballard. Published by Chicago Review Press Lawrence Hill Books. NOW IN PAPERBACK!
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  "A Valiant...Painstaking...Engaging Biography" - Publishers Weekly

     Journalist and author Benjaminson (The Story of Motown) attempts valiantly, painstakingly to resurrect the reputation of founding Supreme member Florence Ballard, who left the group early on and descended into litigiousness and alcoholism. Then a reporter with the Detroit Free Press, Benjaminson interviewed Ballard a year before her death in 1976 and elicited a sad story of a starry-eyed, single-minded high school dropout whose dream, and fortune, was co-opted by Berry Gordy's Motown empire.

 

     Growing up together in Detroit's black working-class Brewster Projects, gospel-singing Ballard and Mary Wilson first formed the Primettes, joined by Diane (as she was then known) Ross and Betty McGlown, who eventually dropped out. In 1961, the teenagers auditioned for Berry Gordy, who kept them doing backup as they matured, touring with the Motortown Review across country by bus until the newly configured Supremes (Ballard chose the name) had their first hit in 1964 with "Where Did Our Love Go?"

 

     The boom-boom beat coupled with the nasaly sound of Ross's voice prompted Gordy to promote Ross rather than Ballard as lead. Over the Supremes' several heady years in the spotlight, Benjaminson explains in this engaging biography, gobs of money vanished through flimsy contracts and the fingers of unscrupulous managers, costly clothes and glamorous acquaintances, and Ballard's resentment of Ross's ambition and Gordy's manipulation got her fired.