Florence Ballard (June 30, 1943 - February 22, 1976), an American singer from Detroit, Michigan, was an original singer in the Primettes, and then became a founder and the lead singer in the Supremes before Diana Ross took the lead.
Ballard had a voice resembling that of Billie Holliday; however, it was Ross's voice that stormed the Supremes into the charts, and the group ended up achieving nine number one hits. In the early days of the Supremes, Florence Ballard took lead on songs like 'People', 'Buttered Popcorn' and 'Heavenly Father'. Diana Ross certainly appealed to a white audience, but there is speculation as to whether her voice was 'accepted' by the black community at the time.
On Saturday, February 21, 1976, Florence entered Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital complaining of numbness in her extremities. On February 22, 1976, Florence Ballard died of a coronary thrombosis (blood clot in one of her coronary arteries). She was 32 years old.