Mary Wilson, a co-founding member of pioneering singing group The Supremes, died on Monday at her home in Henderson, NV. She was 76. A publicist confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone but did not provide a cause of death.
Alongside her bandmates Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, Wilson delivered hit after hit to Motown Records, including twelve number ones from 1964 to 1969. With their dynamic blend of voices, The Supremes were a defining act of the mid-60s girl group era with songs like “Stop! In The Name of Love”, “Where Did Our Love Go”, “You Can’t Hurry Love”, “Baby Love”, and many more. In addition to their legendary singing, the women’s elegant style of dress and presentation brought a new distinction of class and nobility to the pop genre.
Though Ross left The Supremes in 1970, Wilson continued on with another version of the group until 1977. Following the dissolution of The Supremes, Wilson found difficulty in attempts to mount a solo career. While her musical career may have never found the same footing following The Supremes, Wilson’s candor made her an invaluable scribe and living document of the 1960s pop realm. She authored several books, including the best-selling Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme, and throughout her life never shied away from sharing her vivid experiences in the world of Motown Records and The Supremes.
“My condolences to Mary’s family,” Ross said in a statement. “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.”
“I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes,” Motown founder Berry Gordy said in a statement. “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 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. 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.”
[H/T Rolling Stone]