Florence's Tough Life
After Florence Ballard left the Supremes in 1967, she faced some tough times. She received payment from Motown for her participation in the Supremes, but the payment agreement prevented her from ever suing Motown for royalties on her past recordings with the group. At first, Flo started a solo recording career with another label. Her husband, Tommy Chapman, was Flo's manager. She performed gigs at small clubs and bars, and she even got a chance to perform at President Richard Nixon's inauguration festivities in 1969.
Flo's family was growing, too. She gave birth to three daughters and tried to support her large family with her earnings from her music career. Unfortunately, Flo's lawyer told her that all of her Motown earnings were used up. She accused the lawyer of mishandling her finances but was never able to prove it. Many years later, the lawyer was convicted of mishandling the money of his other clients.
Flo's solo career was not very successful and eventually she was broke. She had to sell her home and go on welfare. She continued to struggle with depression and drinking, and she was often in poor health. She remained in contact with Mary for many years, and in 1974 Flo even made a guest appearance with the Supremes during a concert performance.
Sadly, Florence Ballard died from a heart attack in February 1976. She was only thirty-two years old. Her funeral in Detroit was a big event, attended by Mary and Diana and many, many fans. It was a tragic end to the life of a talented woman.