He was born in Detroit, Michigan but grew up in Bessemer, Alabama, where he sang in church.
In 1951, Ballard moved back to Detroit and formed a doo wop group. He soon joined a group called The Royals, along with Henry Booth, Charles Sutton, Sonny Woods and Alonzo Tucker. The Royals had already signed to Federal Records when Ballard joined, and the group soon released Get It (1953), a major R&B hit.
The Royals’ first major hit was “Work With Me, Annie”, a R&B hit that also sold well in mainstream markets, along with the answer song Annie had a Baby The song “Work With Me Annie” is part of the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list..
The group changed its name to The Midnighters to avoid confusion with The “5” Royales. Their next major hit was Sexy Ways, a song that cemented the band as one of the most risque groups of the time. This was to be their last major hit. Sutton was replaced by Lawson Smith, while Thrasher was replaced by Sonny Woods. Tucker was replaced first by Arthur Porter and then Cal Green.
In 1959, Ballard’s The Twist was released as a B-side for Teardrops on Your Letter. Chubby Checker then took The Twist to #1 twice. Though this brought about The Midnighters renaissance, it lasted only a few years. The group dissolved in 1965. Ballard tried to launch a solo career, working with James Brown. Though he later tried to re-form The Midnighters, the new lineups never achieved much success.
On March 2, 2003 Ballard died of throat cancer in his Los Angeles home, aged 75.
Edited by midlifefanclub on 29 Jan 2009, 21:38
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