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BALLARD AND BIRDSONG: This Magic Moment! Florence & Cindy 1974 magic mountain
FlorenceandcindyIn the summer of 1975, Mary Wilson worked a little magic and pulled Florence Ballard on stage as a Supreme for one last time! The Supremes (Wilson, Cindy Birdsong, who had replaced Florence in 1967, and Scherrie Payne, who had replaced Jean Terrell, who had replaced Diana Ross) were performing at Magic Mountain, an amusement park located just north of Los Angeles, and Ballard was th…ere visiting.
Florence had fallen on hard times financially, and had struggled with physical and emotional problems since being fired from The Supremes in 1967. 1975 was a particularly rough year, and Wilson, distressed over her old singing partner’s present condition, invited Flo to spend the summer with her family in California.
There are stories of fans seeing Ballard walking backstage and through the crowds looking rather rough and tough for wear, but, to me, these photos suggest otherwise. The visit with Wilson had its up and downs, but for one shining, magical moment, Florence Ballard held supreme with the group she named and helped found for the first time in eight years. And she did it with the nice lady who replaced her in the group, Cindy Birdsong, the Good Supreme!
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have a surprise guest …. Miss Florence Ballard!” Wilson intoned to an audience of over 2,000. The crowd went berserk and rushed the stage with cameras and cries of “Flo, we love you.” Florence was met with a thunderous ovation with love flooding the headlights. She didn’t sing a note!
All she did was beat a tambourine and dance around the stage, but that was good enough! There are varying stories of Ballard having stopped listening to the classic songs that helped to make her famous, and the word is during the classic group hits-medley that night, Ballard excused herself from the arena only to return when it was over.
Apparently, Wilson had no problem coaxing her onstage for the rousing finale, a rendition of the O’Jays hit, Love Train. And in what must have been a glorious moment for everyone, there were tears in the eyes of those who watched the beleagured Ballard come full circle, and take her rightful place right alongside Cindy Birdsong for just one more magical moment.

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