Ex-Supremes singer saddened at comeback tour snub

Ex-Supremes singer Mary Wilson has told of her sadness at being left out of a reunion tour by the legendary group fronted by superstar Diana Ross.

The 56-year-old founder member said the planned comeback concerts would be "just a Diana Ross tour" rather than a true reunion.

For most of its history, the group were a trio. It was originally a quartet called the Primettes, a "sister group" to the Primes, who were some of the men later to become the Temptations. The original group members were Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Betty McGlown. Betty later left the group and was replaced by Barbara Martin. In 1961 the group changed its name to the Supremes; a year later Barbara left and the group became a trio. In 1967, when the group changed its name to Diana Ross and the Supremes, Flo was sacked and replaced by Cindy Birdsong. Flo then had a brief, unsuccessful solo career.

In 1969 Diana left the Supremes for a solo career; her replacement in the group and as lead singer was Jean Terrell, the sister of boxer Ernie Terrell. Flo died of a heart attack in 1976. In 1977 the Supremes disbanded. Diana is still a solo singer and an actress. Mary has been a solo singer since 1979.

She spoke out in an interview with London's Evening Standard on the eve of her return to America following her successful Dancing in the Streets tour.

"As far as I am concerned, this is not really a Supremes reunion tour," she said. "It is like the Beatles having a reunion and Sir Paul McCartney not inviting George or Ringo. This is just a Diana Ross tour."

Wilson, who criticised Ross in her book, Dreamgirl, My Life as a Supreme, for sidelining her colleagues to promote herself as a solo singer, said she had worked harder than anyone to preserve the "legacy of The Supremes". Wilson was the first female recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for the Supremes at thier induction to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of fame. During the history of the Supremes, the only member who performed with the group from beginning end was Mary Wilson.

Speaking in her dressing room at the Dominion Theatre in Tottenham Court Road, London, she added: "I just cannot understand it. There is no rift between Diana and myself."

While Ross was the Supremes' lead singer until her departure in 1969, Wilson was the only member to stay with the group from its inception in 1959 to its break-up in 1977.

The new tour will see Ross "reunited" with Seventies Supremes members Lynda Laurence and Scherrie Payne, both of whom joined after she left.

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