Florence Ballard and Thomas Chapman Needs a Banner!
Thomas Chapman (29 February 1968 - 22 February 1976) (her death) 3 children
Ballard married Thomas Chapman, a former chauffeur for Motown, on February 29, 1968, and signed with ABC Records in March 1968, two weeks after having negotiated her release from Motown on February 22, 1968. Ballard received a one-time payment of $139,804.94 in royalties and earnings from Motown for her six-year tenure with the label.
Billed as "Florence `Flo` Ballard" and with her husband serving as her manager, Ballard released the singles "It Doesn`t Matter How I Say It (It`s What I Say That Matters)" and "Love Ain`t Love" on ABC Records. The singles failed to chart, and Ballard`s album for ABC was shelved. Her musical career thus went into a rapid decline, and the $139,000 was systematically depleted by the Chapmans` management agency. Stipulations in her contract with Motown prohibited Ballard from mentioning, in any promotional materials or noting on the back of her album liner, that she had ever been in the Supremes or recorded for Motown.
Ballard continued her efforts at a solo career. In September of 1968, she performed alongside Bill Cosby at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. That same year, Ballard rode on a float in that city`s Bud Billiken Parade with comedian Godfrey Cambridge. On October 20, 1968, she was the featured personality of Detroit`s magazine, Detroit and that same month, she gave birth to twin girls, Michelle Chapman and Nicole Chapman, the first two of her three children. She began the new year by performing at one of Richard Nixon`s inaugural balls in Washington, DC on January 20, 1969. In 1971, Ballard unsuccessfully sued Motown for additional royalty payments she believed were due to her.
In 1973, Ballard gave birth to her third child, Lisa Chapman. Soon after, Thomas Chapman left Ballard and her house was seized by foreclosure, effectively ending her career. Diana Ross heard of Ballard`s struggle to save her house from foreclosure and offered financial help, but legal issues surrounding the matter prevented this from going through.
Over the next few years, Ballard laid low from all publicity. In 1974, Mary Wilson, who had maintained a rapport with Ballard over the years, invited Ballard to fly out to California to visit. The Supremes, with lead singer Scherrie Payne, were performing at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Wilson invited Ballard onstage to sing with the group. Ballard joined them on stage, but did not sing: instead, she played the tambourine. Although her onstage appearance brought loud cheers from the crowd, Ballard told Wilson that she had no interest to continue a career in music.
Upon her return to Detroit, Ballard`s financial situation declined further. Uninterested in returning to showbusiness, and with three children to support, she applied for welfare. This news and the story of her downward spiral hit the national newspapers.
Comeback and sudden death:
The cover of the UK release The Supreme Florence Ballard. Despite most of the songs on the album originally being recorded for ABC Records in 1968, the cover photo is actually a Motown publicity photo from 1965.In 1975, Ballard received a settlement from a slip-and-fall incident in which she had broken her leg after slipping on a patch of ice in Detroit. With the accident settlement money, Ballard purchased a small house on Shaftsbury Avenue in Detroit for herself and her children and made a decision to return to singing. Around this same time, Ballard also reconciled with her estranged husband.
Backed by the female rock group "The Deadly Nightshade," Ballard performed as a part of the Joan Little Defense League at a concert held at Detroit`s Henry and Edsel Ford Auditorium on June 25, 1975. Following the success of this performance, Ballard received requests for newspaper and television interviews, including an appearance on the local Detroit talk show The David Diles Show.
On February 21, 1976, Ballard entered Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital, complaining of numbness in her extremities. The next day, she died at 10:05 a.m. of coronary thrombosis, a blood clot in one of her coronary arteries. She was thirty-two years old.
Ballard is buried in Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery located in Warren, Michigan. In the years following Florence Ballard`s death, Diana Ross established trust funds in the names of each of Ballard`s three children.
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