Florence Ballard was the founding member and lead singer of one of the biggest girl groups ever, The Supremes. Originally The Primettes, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson and Diane Ross enlisted neighborhood friend Smokey Robinson to help them score a record deal with Motown. Barry Gordy signed the group but after several singles that didn’t break the Top 40, he shuffled Ross into the lead position. With the success of hits like "When the Lovelight Starts Shining,""Through His Eyes" and "Where Did Our Love Go," Diana Ross became the star. Ballard grew frustrated with her new role in the group and fell prey to depression and alcoholism, factors that weighed heavily in Gordy’s decision to abruptly and permanently dismiss her from the group in 1967. After an unsuccessful attempt at a solo career, Ballard spent the next few years raising her three daughters on welfare, while embroiled in legal drama with Motown. After cashing in a settlement from an accident, things began to turn around. Ballard purchased a home and began making public appearances. Sadly, in 1976, Ballard died of a coronary thrombosis at the age of 32. Her death has been called one of rock’s greatest tragedies.
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