Legendary vocalist Mary Wilson, one-third of the original iconic Motown trio The Supremes, has died at 76 as revealed by her longtime publicist Jay Schwartz.
While it was reported she died suddenly, at writing her cause of death has not been revealed.
Berry Gordy, founder of Motown, took to press to issue a statement on Mary’s passing.
“I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supreme,” said Berry Gordy in a statement Monday night (February 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.”
The Supremes (originally founded in 1959 by Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard under the name “The Primettes”) went on to have 12 No. 1 singles in the 1960s, including ‘Come See About Me,’ ‘Stop in the Name of Love!,’ and many more. Staying with the group throughout its different incarnation and lineup changes, Wilson went on to solo success as a best-selling author with the 1986 book, ‘Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme,’ as well as a musical theater performer and musicians’ rights activist.
Alongside her original bandmates, Ross and Ballard, Wilson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 for The Supremes’ unparalleled and groundbreaking popularity as well as their deconstruction of racial and gender barriers in Pop music.
She is survived by her two children, Turkessa and Pedro Antonio Jr., and numerous grandchildren. The family says memorial services will be private due to restrictions imposed by the global health crisis.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that friends and fans financially support the United Negro College Fund and the Humpty Dumpty Institute – two organizations that report missions that were highly regarded by the late Wilson.