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The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard Paperback – September 1, 2009

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The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard + Mary Wells: The Tumultuous Life of Motown's First Superstar + Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The Troubled Lives and Enduring Soul of the Temptations
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556529597
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556529597
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #299,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Flo Ballard’s remarkable story is a personal Greek tragedy. In his wonderful The Lost Supreme, Peter Benjaminson tells it masterfully, with all the drama and empathy her life deserves. In Benjaminson’s talented hands, Flo Ballard earns the lasting stardom she was deprived of in life."  —Gerald Posner, author, Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power

“Get to know the real Flo, from the beginning to the end. A must read.”  —Otis Williams, the Temptations

“Peter Benjaminson has done a stellar job in capturing [Florence Ballard] and telling her story. Florence deserved a biographer with the skill and talent of Benjaminson. If this book were a record, it would top the charts.”  —Al Abrams, publicity director, Motown Records, 1964–1966

“Provides details Ballard wouldn’t or couldn’t discuss.”  —Onion

More About the Author



This book is the first biography of the late great Ms. Wells ever published, as well as the third book Peter has written about the Motown Record Company.

He previously wrote "The Story of Motown,"(Grove Press, 1979), the first book ever published in this country about Motown, and "The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard" (Chicago Review Press/Lawrence Hill Books, 2008), a bio of the founding member of the legendary Motown group The Supremes.

He is now writing a biography of Rick James, one of Motown's last superstars, for Chicago Review Press.

Peter was born in Washington, D.C. and was a reporter and City-County Bureau Chief for the Detroit Free Press from 1970-76.

While at the Free Press, he wrote the book "Investigative Reporting," with Dave Anderson (Indiana University Press, 1976 and Iowa State University Press, 1990), the first how-to book in that field. It was in print for 20 years.

In 1979 he wrote "The Story of Motown," and from 1979 to 1981 he was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He taught journalism at Binghamton University, New York University, and Columbia University from 1981-91.

In 1984, he wrote "Death in the Afternoon: America's Newspaper Giants Struggle for Survival" (Andrews, McMeel), the first and only book about the death of afternoon newspapers in America's big cities.

In 1992, he wrote "Publish Without Perishing" (National Education Association and National Writers Union); and in 1997, he wrote "Secret Police: Inside the New York City Department of Investigation" (New York: Barricade Books).

From 1991-1994 he was the spokesman for the NYC Department of Investigation. He was Assistant Editor of the Chief Leader Newspaper in New York City from 1994-1998 and the spokesman for the NYC Correction Officers Benevolent Association from 1998-2003. In 2003 and 2009 he was the spokesman for Members for Change in NYC Teamsters Local 237.

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Customer Reviews

The Lost Supreme tells the real story of what happened to Florence Ballard.
If you want to know how good this book is, simply look at how hard people who fear the truth are going all out in their efforts to keep you from buying it.
N. Abrams
I was disappointed that the author made little use of many other printed sources, especially from magazines and newspapers.
Araph Keita

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 51 people found the following review helpful By R. Carter on February 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book will appeal to Supremes' fans, but may not go over too well with those who favor Diana Ross. It will also appeal to those who heard about Flo through "Dreamgirls," yet it will disapppoint Supremes fans who know details and facts and accurate information about the group and its' members and who yearn for truth... This book is spell-binding and a very easy read, yet it lacks accuracy and details. There are numerous little things in the book that are just not quite true, which I, as a real Supremes fan, find very annoying. For example, Benjamin states that Diana, Mary, and Cindy went into the studio and recorded "Someday We'll Be Together." Supremes fans know that Diana recorded that song without the other Supremes. Furthermore, as he writes about an event in Flo's life in the early 70's, he states that as this was happening "Reflections" had just been released, a song Flo had sang on. The chronology is all wrong: "Reflections" came out several years before. Additionally, Benjamin repeatedly talks about how the Supremes had sunk deeper and deeper after Flo left the group and refers to them as the "no hit Supremes" between 1967 and 1970. This is not accurate. True they had less hits, yet their songs still placed in the top 40, and several made the top 10 and higher. As I said, for a Supremes fan, the book is spell-binding and a must-read, but errors like these I have mentioned give it a lack of credibility and a gossipy feel. It's a shame, too. This book has been highly anticipated and could have been so much more.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Franjoy on February 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I intend to buy the book after all this book has been in the making for many years.
I remember an article written in the Daily News many years ago about Peter writing this book it was around 1994 or 95 where it was mentioned that he interviewed Flo and that the title of the book was going to be called "Lost Supreme" and I mentioned it at a Supremes convention in DC where Flo's daughters were present. I think we deserve to know what Flo had to say in his interview of her especially if the tapes are going to be soon available. And Flo certainly got a raw deal through her days up to and after her dismissal from the Supremes and up to her death. Here is a chance for others to judge for themselves what this book has to say. I enjoyed Maxines's book but I felt a lot was not revealed from that book that fans want more insight into and deserve to know more about. I am sure I will come back after reading this book with a better review (this approaching the 32nd anniversary of her death) stay tuned.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alex Honda on June 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading Perter Benjaminson's book THE LOST SUPREME: THE LIFE OF DREAMGIRL FLORENCE BALLARD. It's an intriguing book that gives the reader a glimpse at the behind the scenes of one the world's most famous singing group and arguably the one that put Motown on the map.

The book covers, briefly, the formation of the Supremes and the rise up the chart. It also covers the break up and downward spiral of ex-Supreme Flo Ballard. And although I found the book an interesting read, most of the information seems to be put together in piecemeal format. It jumps around a lot, and I understand that Benjaminson was using a tape recorded interview that he had conducted with Ballard back in 1975-76, when he worked for the "Detroit Free Press," as well as public records to put this book together.

I was expecting more details, especially of Ballard's life after the Supremes, along the lines of Mary Wilson's book Dreamgirl & Supreme Faith, Updated Edition: My Life as a Supreme but this book falls short. It does give some account of the sad life and struggle that Ballard had after Motown and The Supremes, so at least it sheds some light.

There were a couple of errors in the book that makes me say read everything with a grain of salt. One problem, that Supreme fans would catch, is the author implying that when the Supremes became "Diana Ross and the Supremes" they no longer cared about their appearance and performed "Love Child" on the Ed Sullivan show in their street clothes. Well, that's not true. The group was changing their image to a more urban look to fit in with the turbulent 60s and the changing times, hence the song.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. K. Stern on March 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Iconic Supremes! Bugle beads, wigs, gowns, a beat you had to dance to and lyrics you couldn't stop singing. It was the 60's and before there was the British Invasion, The Stones or anyone else there was the Motown Sound ... and no one did it better than Diana, Mary and Flo. The Dream Girls NOT.

While Diana's rise is well chronicled and debated, Florence Ballard's unenviable "not so happy" ending is not. Peter Benjaminison lets you hear that story by recreating the era and giving you the backdrop to hear Flo's voice. A strong woman with a strong voice who fell victim to a "hit machine" and then couldn't find the strength or catch the break that would allow her to overcome what fate dealt her.

In the sixties and the toast of the town was broke and on welfare. It could have been a tearjerker but instead it's a fatalists biography. Flo had it, made it and then lost it. Simple plot filled with palace intrigue that while known to some, remains the untold story for most of us who just always wondered "Whatever happened to....?" An object lesson about trust, naivete, betrayal, lies, opportunists, users and all the rest of their ilk. Peter Benjaminson lays it out in a "read" that happens way too fast.

Get the book, relive the years, hear her speak and then do what I did. Go out and find that album she made and listen to the voice that Motown couldn't quash, couldn't get us to forget... the voice of the Lost Supreme who has come home to my record collection at last.
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