Mary Wilson, one of the founding members of the legendary Motown group The Supremes, has died at 76.
According to Wilson’s longtime publicist, Jay Schwartz, the singer died suddenly in her home in Henderson, Nevada, Monday night. No cause of death has been revealed.
Motown founder Berry Gordy released a statement following the news, saying:
“I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes. The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown.’ Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, came to Motown in the early 1960’s. After an unprecedented string of number one hits, television and nightclub bookings, they opened doors for themselves, the other Motown acts, and many, many others.
“I was always proud of Mary,” he continued. “She was quite a star in her own right and over the years continued to work hard to boost the legacy of the Supremes. Mary Wilson was extremely special to me. She was a trailblazer, a diva and will be deeply missed.”
Wilson was born in Greenville, Mississippi, in 1944, and moved with her family to Detroit when she was a pre-teen. Wilson first met Ballard in elementary school and the two became friends after performing in a school talent show. Soon after, Ballard asked Wilson to audition for a girl group known as The Primettes, with Ross and Betty McGlown.
When the group signed to Motown in 1961, Mcglown left the group and their name was changed to The Supremes. The trio went on to land 12 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and even when the group disbanded in 1977, Wilson went on to have a successful solo career. In 1986 she released her memoir: Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme.
Just three days ago, Wilson uploaded a video to her YouTube channel announcing plans to release new recordings with Universal Music as well as the unreleased album “Red Hot.”
Wilson is survived by her daughter Turkessa and grandchildren (Mia, Marcanthony, Marina); her son, Pedro Antonio Jr and grandchildren (Isaiah, Ilah, Alexander, Alexandria); her sister Kathryn; her brother, Roosevelt; her adopted son/cousin William and grandchildren (Erica (great granddaughter, Lori), Vanessa, Angela).