Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1086

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Tony Turner with Barbara Aria: All That Glittered: My Life With The Supremes (Iuniverse Inc)

Tony Turner: All That Glittered - My Life With The Supremes (Iuniverse Inc)



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UK release date 01.06.2007

The plight of Florence Ballard as she battled with alcohol demons, which in turn contributed to her verbally venting her anger and frustration at Diana Ross and Berry Gordy, is a vital part of this book, originally published in America during 1990.

This period in The Supremes’ career is long ago, and through the passage of time there’s varying memories of those heady days when they grew from fledglings into beautiful, elegant birds. Author Tony Turner was in the prime position to record those engaging highs and lows because, as a young teenager, he was befriended by Florence, among others. He travelled with the group, accompanying them to tv dates and prestigious concerts, and all with his family’s approval. However, as he was such a young man, could he have fully grasped the games that artists/grown ups play? Diana Ross, once again, is the wicked witch, but wasn’t she only doing something the others wished they’d thought of first? Snare Berry Gordy and you’re the trio’s lead singer. I don’t believe she deserves what’s written about her here. But as I say, many years have passed, and the real tragedy, of course, is Florence’s unexpected death from a coronary artery thrombosis in 1976. And nothing’s gonna change that.

There’s a lot of detail and conversation here, and I can only guess that Tony made copious notes at the time. For instance, he recalls in detail each Supremes’ make-up shades, and his visits to the Make Up Hut to purchase them. Also, his confidential chats shared with Florence are so intense and personal to her, that she must have trusted him, which brings a certain human tenderness into play. There’s also mountains of other inside information here – when Cindy Birdsong replaced Florence, Tony was prepared to hate her, but couldn’t; when Diana Ross and the Supremes continued to grow to incredible international heights, Florence married Tommy Chapman, had three daughters, and was into a solo career; and when her husband became her manager, her touring schedule was second-rate to say the least, and her recording career began to crack before she’d had the chance to shine as a soloist.

Tony also covers Diana leaving the trio to be replaced by Jean Terrell, and, following a lengthy hiatus where she struggled to survive, Florence’s return to the business, thanks to high profile media interviews. Noting her funeral, Tony wrote that wreaths from her former Motowners were on display outside the church, while inside Aretha’s father, the Reverend Franklin, took the service against a backdrop of screaming fans congregated outside. Some time after Florence’s death, her husband sold her autobiography to Motown for $10,000, then during 1987, when Tony was helping Mary Wilson research her 'Dreamgirl' book, Tommy Chapman was shot dead.

Summing up then, the book is revealing – often funny, sometimes sad – but that’s what happens when three women work and play together. It’s not all smiles and goody two shoes, which is what the public see; it can be a dog eat dog environment backstage, where only the strong survive. That said, this is a very interesting overview of Tony’s time spent with the world’s most famous female trio. But, it’s really up to the reader to decide if it’s believable or not. Nevertheless, it has encouraged me to read his second book 'Deliver Us From Temptation'.

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