Music

Mary Wilson, a Founding Member of The Supremes, Dead at 76: She 'Will Be Deeply Missed'

Mary Wilson, a founding member of The Supremes, has died. She was 76.

On Monday evening, Wilson — who made up the first arrangement of The Supremes alongside Diana Ross and Florence Ballard — died at her home in Las Vegas, her publicist Jay Schwartz confirmed to multiple outlets.

Wilson's cause of death was not immediately clear but Schwartz added in a statement to CNN that she "passed away suddenly."

According to Schwartz, funeral services for Wilson will be private due to restrictions and protocols amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but there will be a public memorial later this year.

Born on March 6, 1944, in Greenville, Mississippi, according to her IMDB page, Wilson began her career in Detroit in 1959, singing for The Primettes, who would later go on to become The Supremes, per CNN.

Alongside Ross, 76, and Ballard — who was later replaced by Cindy Birdsong — Wilson appeared on each of The Supremes' 12 No. 1 pop hits from 1964 to 1969, including "Where Did Our Love Go," "Baby Love," "Come See About Me," and "Stop! In the Name of Love," among others, according to Variety.

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A few days before her death, Wilson shared a video on her YouTube channel announcing that she was planning to release a new batch of solo material, including the unreleased album Red Hot she recorded in the 1970s.

"Hopefully some of that will be out on my birthday, March 6," she said in the video, before also noting that she would release interviews that she had done in the past about The Supremes' experiences with segregation in honor of Black History Month.

In a statement given to Variety, Motown Records' founder Berry Gordy reflected on Wilson's death, sharing that he was "extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family."

"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," he said. "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, son, several grandchildren, a sister and a brother, per CNN.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that friends and fans support UNCF.org and the Humpty Dumpty Institute.

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