Had she not been like, “I’m not doing this singing thing on my own,” there’d never be the complex, rich history of The Supremes. Perhaps Diana Ross *might* have become a singer, but it’s the plucky Florence Ballard that got The Supremes off the ground as The Primettes. It was her who picked the legendary name out of the hat. She was The Supremes.
So it’s worth noting that a lot of people feel that the concept of “The Supremes” died when she got her final heave-ho July 1st, 1967. There’s the huge part of me that recognizes that 85% of the Diana Ross & The Supremes single releases from that point forward had The Andantes on background vocals once she left. Though her contributions to the spotlight of the group rapidly waned between 1964 and 1967, she possessed an integral part of the magic formula that made the group famous in the first place.
Regardless, much debate over whether she was taken in the right direction with her solo career has been made in the past 45 years. Possessing a nearly 4 octave vocal range and a variety of styles within her range, it actually proved a problem with determining a definitive vocal style for her. She could grunt and growl with the best of them, but also within a flip of a dime do operatic runs as well.
Given where Soul Music was in 1968, the majority of her efforts had her either trying her damndest to imitate the Supremes surroundings she was used to or pitch her as the next Aretha or Etta James. One of the few delightful oddities was this very Martha & The Vandellas circa “Honey Chile” flavored effort that many think is her best solo effort. Given the A-side, the proto-disco “Love Ain’t Love” was perhaps a bit too forward thinking for the summer of ‘68, I give the nod to “Forever Faithful” being her most sure shot at chart action.
As known, as “Love Ain’t Love” got some airplay, but not enough to break into the national charts, it wasn’t to be. 6 Months pregnant with twins, that song and this one would be the last time Florence Ballard entered a recording studio. In tribute to something that almost was, I’ll be forever faithful a Florence Ballard fan.
Happy 72nd Birthday Blondie.