Mary Wilson, a founding member of the legendary female singing group The Supremes, has passed away at age 76.
Per her publicist Jay Schwartz, Wilson passed away Monday at her home in Henderson, Nevada.
TMZ later reported that per the Clark County Coroner, the singer died from hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
Born in Greenville, Mississippi, on March 6, 1944, Wilson and her family later moved to the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit, Michigan.
Wilson — along with Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, and Betty McGlown, who are all from the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects — formed The Primettes, the sister act to The Primes.
After McGlown left to get married, she was replaced by Barbara Martin and the group signed with Motown the following year as The Supremes. Martin eventually left the act in early 1962, and the group continued as a trio.
In the ’60s, the group had a number of smash hits, including “Baby Love” and “Stop! In the Name of Love.”
After numerous group changes, including the departure of Ross in 1970, The Supremes disbanded in 1977.
To date, The Supremes are considered America’s most successful vocal group, as they have scored 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100.
Wilson later embarked on a solo career, releasing her self-titled debut in 1979, as well as “Walk the Line” in 1992.
She also released a number of books, including her 1986 autobiography “Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme.”
TMZ also said Wilson was a successful motivational speaker.
After the heartbreaking news broke, several of Wilson’s past collaborators paid their respects on social media.
Ross wrote on Twitter:
I just woke up to this news , my condolences to you Mary's family ,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 💕— Ms. Ross (@DianaRoss) February 9, 2021
Additionally, Motown founder Berry Gordy said in a statement obtained by Variety:
“I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes. 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 and grandchildren Mia, Marcanthony, and Marina; as well as her son Pedro Antonio Jr. and grandchildren Isaiah, Ilah, Alexander, and Alexandria. Both children are from her marriage to former Supremes manager Pedro Ferrer, whom she divorced in 1981.
Sadly, Wilson and Ferrer’s 14-year-old son Rafael was killed in a 1994 car accident.
She is also survived by her sister Kathryn; her brother, Roosevelt; her adopted son/cousin Willie and grandchildren Erica, Vanessa, and Angela, as well as great-granddaughter Lori.
In lieu of flowers, Wilson’s family has requested that friends and fans support UNCF.org and the Humpty Dumpty Institute.
Our condolences go out to Wilson’s loved ones for their loss.