Mary Wilson has died aged 76 (Picture: Getty Images)
Motown singer Mary Wilson has died at the age of 76, it has been confirmed.
The legendary musician, an original and co-founding member of The Supremes, died on Monday night at her home in Las Vegas.
Wilson’s publicist Jay Schwartz said the singer died suddenly.
Reacting to the news, Motown label founder Berry Gordy said in a statement: ‘I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supreme.
‘The Supremes were always known as the “sweethearts of Motown”. Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, came to Motown in the early 1960s. After an unprecedented string of No. 1 hits, television and nightclub bookings, they opened doors for themselves, the other Motown acts, and many, many others. … I was always proud of Mary.
‘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.’
The news will come as a shock to fans as Wilson had uploaded a YouTube video announcing her plans to work on new music just two days before her death.
Wilson (middle) was a founding member of The Supremes alongside Diana Ross (left) and Florence Ballard (Picture: Getty Images)
Wilson, here with Diana Ross (middle) and Cindy Birdsong (left) was a member of The Supremes until 1977 (Picture: Getty Images)
Wilson released two solo albums after The Supremes disbanded (Picture: Getty Images)
The musician told followers that she was working with Universal Music on solo tracks and had hoped it would be released on her birthday on March 6. She was also planning on releasing the album Red Hot, which she originally recorded in the 1970s.
Wilson was an original member of The Supremes alongside Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, and was eventually joined by Ballard’s replacement Cindy Birdsong.
As one of the biggest groups of all time, Wilson appeared on all 12 of The Supremes’ chart-topping singles between 1964-69, including Where Did Our Love Go, Baby Love, Stop! In The Name Of Love and You Keep Me Hanging’ On.
Reflecting on The Supremes’ fame, Wilson told The Guardian in 2010: ‘It really was like walking into a Disneyland. All these creative people. People say: “Motown, it was this big building”, but I always say no, Motown was always a collaboration between the people, with Berry (Gordy) at the head of course.’
She added of whether there were tensions within the group: ‘Yes, a family. I think we all think of ourselves as distant cousins. There are some things, but there’s no hate – I still would want to be at Motown…
‘She grew up as Diane, and Florence grew up as Flo. We’re friends but we don’t call each other constantly. We’ve grown apart, but it’s not because we don’t like each other. My love for Flo and Diane is pretty much almost the same as for my sisters – we had so much together, we grew up together.’
In 1986, Wilson wrote the best-selling memoir, Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme, which became famous for its scathing depiction of what life was like in the band, in particular, her relationship with Ross.
Evidence of their turbulent bond, Wilson wrote of her bandmate: ‘She has done many things to hurt, humiliate, and upset me, but, strangely enough, I still over her and am proud of her.’
In recent years, Wilson appeared as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars in 2019, while also releasing her memoir Supreme Glamour.