Mary Wilson, the co-founder of the legendary Supremes singing group and a Motown Records legend, has died. As one of the most talented vocalists of her era, Wilson reportedly passed away suddenly on Monday (Feb. 8) according to her publicist and friend, Jay Schwartz.
Wilson was born March 6, 1944, in Greeneville, Miss., moving from St. Louis and Chicago early on with her family before settling in Detroit. In grade school, Wilson and her friend Florence Ballard discovered they both had a love and talent for singing, with Ballard bringing Wilson to an audition to star in a sister group to the male singing group, The Primes. The pair were accepted into the Primettes, along with singers Diana Ross and Betty McGlown, becoming the Supremes in 1961 after signing with Berry Gordy’s Motown outfit.
After McGlown left the Supremes, she was replaced by Barbara Martin, who eventually left the group in 1962, dropping the Supremes to a trio. During a brief period, the group was known as Diana Ross and the Supremes before reverting back to their original name. Wilson left the group in 1977 after several lineup changes and a number of classic hits.
Wilson’s solo career was also fruitful and produced two solo albums along with a number of guest appearances. It was reported that just days ago, Wilson was embarking on releasing new music and had hoped to release the new tunes on her upcoming birthday. In a statement provided to us by Universal Music, Berry Gordy expressed sadness over the news of the loss.
“I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes,” Berry Gordy offered in a statement released on Monday (Feb. 8). “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.”
Wilson is survived by her daughter Turkessa, her son Pedro Antonio Jr., an adopted son William, eight, grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter, sister Kathryn, and brother Roosevelt. A private ceremony will be held for Wilson due to COVID-19 restrictions and in lieu of flowers, the family asks that fans and friends support UNCF.org and The Humpty Dumpty Institute in her honor.
Mary Wilson was 76. May she rest in powerful peace.
To a female trailblazer and forever Sweetheart of Motown, who brought many timeless records for generations to come - Thank You.— Motown Records (@motown) February 9, 2021
Your art and your legacy will forever live on in the Motown story. From our Motown family, rest in paradise @MWilsonSupreme 🕊 pic.twitter.com/YwsZM41g9v
The world has lost one of its greatest legends, Mary Wilson, original and founding member of the Supremes. pic.twitter.com/KJzNutx9lQ— Classic Motown (@ClassicMotown) February 9, 2021
A Loved Supreme. Goodbye Mary Wilson...The Dreamgirl. https://t.co/CEl2tP9laS— B.R.O.theR. ?uestion (@questlove) February 9, 2021
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 #MaryWilson ❤️ https://t.co/q54gUFLmcl pic.twitter.com/li8ndoy7yx— Beverley Knight💙 (@Beverleyknight) February 9, 2021
OMG! Mary Wilson of the Supremes has died suddenly. I was just on a Zoom call with her Wednesday for about an hour & never could have imagined this. So full of life & great stories. Absolutely shocked. Rest In Supreme Peace Mary. https://t.co/E9CmwF1Hum— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) February 9, 2021
I remember going to see the Mary Wilson Supreme Legacy collection m and being so in love and obsessed with Mary Wilson ..i bought her book and retold my mom everything she already knew Lolol like i had the tea https://t.co/Qo03f0duJN— Crab Leg Luxury. (@ScottieBeam) February 9, 2021