Mary Wilson, longest-reigning original Supreme, dies at 76

Mary Wilson, one of the original members of the Supremes, the 1960s group that helped establish the Motown sound and propelled Diana Ross to superstardom, has died. She was 76.

Associated Press

Feb 10, 2021, 4:27 AM

Updated 1,255 days ago

Share:

Mary Wilson, one of the original members of the Supremes, the 1960s group that helped establish the Motown sound and propelled Diana Ross to superstardom, has died. She was 76.
Wilson died Monday night at her home in Nevada and the cause was not immediately clear, said publicist Jay Schwartz.
Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard made up the first successful configuration of The Supremes, Motown’s first and most commercially successful girl group. Ballard was replaced by Cindy Birdsong in 1967, and Wilson stayed with the group until it was officially disbanded in 1977.
The group’s first No. 1, million-selling song, “Where Did Our Love Go,” was released June 17, 1964. Touring at the time, Wilson said there was a moment when she realized they had a hit song.
“I remember that instead of going home on the bus, we flew,” she told The Associated Press in 2014. “That was our first plane ride. We flew home. We had really hit big.”
It would be the first of five consecutive No. 1s, with “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me,” “Stop! In the Name of Love" and “Back in My Arms Again” following in quick succession. The Supremes also recorded the hit songs “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Up the Ladder to the Roof” and “Love Child.”
“I just woke up to this news," Ross tweeted on Tuesday, offering her condolences to Wilson's family. “I am reminded that each day is a gift,” she added, writing “I have so many wonderful memories of our time together."
Berry Gordy, who founded the Detroit-based Motown Records, said he was “extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes.” His statement Monday night, according to Variety, said “The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown.’”
Wilson, Ross and Ballard were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
“The world has lost one of the brightest stars in our Motown family. Mary Wilson was an icon,” Motown Museum Chairwoman and CEO Robin Terry said in a statement.
Wilson, in a recent YouTube video posted Saturday, said she was excited to celebrate Black history month, her upcoming birthday (March 6) and teased fans with the announcement that Universal Music had plans to release some of her music.
“We're going to be talking about the Supremes, yeah, 60th anniversary, and I'm going to be talking a lot about that mainly because I've finally decided how to work with Universal and they're going to release new recordings, Mary Wilson recordings," she said. “Yes! At last!"
“Hopefully some of that will be out on my birthday," she continued. “We'll see. I've got my fingers crossed here. Yes I do."
Several celebrities mourned Wilson's death on social media, including Viola Davis, Questlove, Andy Cohen, Janet Mock, Ledisi, Richard Marx and Kiss' Paul Stanley, who said he was in touch with Wilson last week.
“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," he tweeted Tuesday. “So full of life & great stories. Absolutely shocked. Rest In Supreme Peace Mary."
Steven Van Zandt said he spoke to Wilson before the world went on lockdown because of the coronavirus, tweeting Tuesday: “RIP Mary Wilson. Legendary founding member of the Supremes and fantastic solo artist. I had a wonderful conversation with her just before the quarantine. She was full of energy and plans so this is shocking as well as tragic. Our love and condolences go to her family and friends."
Following the Supremes' disbandment, Wilson released the New York Times best-selling book, “Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme," in 1986. She released her second book, “Supreme Faith: Someday We’ll Be Together," in 1990. Her last book, “Supreme Glamour," was written with Mark Bego and was released in 2019.
Wilson also competed on ABC's “Dancing with the Stars" in 2019.
(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)


More from News 12
1:54
Mayor Adams, state officials address global Microsoft outages

Mayor Adams, state officials address global Microsoft outages

1:38
Subways and buses across NYC still running amid worldwide outage

Subways and buses across NYC still running amid worldwide outage

2:13
Sunny, warm and humid conditions heading into the weekend for Brooklyn

Sunny, warm and humid conditions heading into the weekend for Brooklyn

NY State Assemblymember Kenny Burgos announces resignation

NY State Assemblymember Kenny Burgos announces resignation

1:35
Technology outage causes widespread flight disruptions at NYC airports

Technology outage causes widespread flight disruptions at NYC airports

2:11
New NY state law makes deed theft criminal

New NY state law makes deed theft criminal

0:25
NYPD: Man wanted for inappropriately touching 12-year-old girl in Bushwick

NYPD: Man wanted for inappropriately touching 12-year-old girl in Bushwick

5:00
Tech expert weighs in on Microsoft outage impacts across the globe

Tech expert weighs in on Microsoft outage impacts across the globe

3:31
Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world

Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world

1:52
Googling for Gold: Research finds New York searches for gold - a lot

Googling for Gold: Research finds New York searches for gold - a lot

1:40
NYPD, NYC Parks work together to combat illegal vending on Coney Island Boardwalk

NYPD, NYC Parks work together to combat illegal vending on Coney Island Boardwalk

1:40
New Bed-Stuy center brings healing to those impacted by violent crime

New Bed-Stuy center brings healing to those impacted by violent crime

2:09
Councilmember Zhuang speaks out following accusations of biting a police officer

Councilmember Zhuang speaks out following accusations of biting a police officer

13:51
'I’m not supposed to be here tonight.' Donald Trump recounts assassination attempt

'I’m not supposed to be here tonight.' Donald Trump recounts assassination attempt

1:22
National Weather Service says high rip current risk is in effect for NYC beaches

National Weather Service says high rip current risk is in effect for NYC beaches

2:00
Funeral service held for fallen NYPD recruit Edgar Ordonez

Funeral service held for fallen NYPD recruit Edgar Ordonez

0:29
Brooklyn DA: Man sentenced to 20 years for point-blank shots fired

Brooklyn DA: Man sentenced to 20 years for point-blank shots fired

1:33
NYPD data: Subway crime trending downwards citywide, but up in Brooklyn South

NYPD data: Subway crime trending downwards citywide, but up in Brooklyn South

1:49
Plans for new Tao Nightclub in Greenpoint met with community backlash

Plans for new Tao Nightclub in Greenpoint met with community backlash

0:37
Coney Island residents to vote on how new building developments will be funded, maintained

Coney Island residents to vote on how new building developments will be funded, maintained