Mary Wilson death: The Supremes co-founder dies aged 76

Singer died in her Las Vegas home

Isobel Lewis
Tuesday 09 February 2021 16:09
Wilson in 2019
Wilson in 2019
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The Supremes co-founder Mary Wilson has died aged 76.

The singer with the legendary Motown group died suddenly on Monday at her home in Henderson, Nevada. Wilson’s longtime publicist Jay Schwartz did not confirm the cause of death.

The Supremes had numerous UK top 10 hits in the Sixties including “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Stop! In the Name of Love”, scoring a No 1 with their 1964 single “Baby Love” .

Wilson founded the Detroit group – then called The Primettes – in 1959, aged just 15. She along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard signed to Motown Records in 1961.

Lead singer Ross tweeted: “My condolences to Mary’s family, I am reminded that each day is a gift, I have so many wonderful memories of our time together. The Supremes will live on, in our hearts.”

Motown founder Berry Gordy said he was “extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family”.

Singer Beverley Knight paid tribute to Wilson and the Supreme’s legacy, tweeting: “Mary Wilson along with Florence Ballard and Diana Ross changed the game permanently. Hit after hit after hit, on regular rotation to this day. A Supreme Titan may have left us but that legacy will never be surpassed. Rest in power.”

From L-R: Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson and Diana Ross of the Supremes in 1965

Pose director and writer Janet Mock tweeted: “Thank you Ms Mary Wilson for showing us all how to be Supreme.”

The group scored their first US hit in 1963 with “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes” and went on to become Motown’s most successful act, racking up 12 US No 1s.

Wilson also released two solo studio albums, as well as four books, including bestselling autobiography, Dreamgirl: My Life As a Supreme. In 2019, she competed on the US show Dancing with the Stars.

On Saturday (6 February), Wilson had posted a video to her YouTube channel announcing that she was working with Universal Music on releasing solo material, including an unreleased album titled Red Hot, which she recorded in the 1970s.

She planned to put out the record on 6 March, her birthday. In the video, Wilson said that she would be releasing interviews about the Supremes’ experiences with segregation.

In the video the singer said that she would be releasing interviews about the Supremes’ experiences with segregation.

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