According to the Associated Press, Supremes co-founder Mary Wilson, who sang in the group until they broke up, suddenly died at home in Las Vegas. No cause of death was given. She was 76 years old.
Wilson was born in Greenville, Mississippi in 1944 and grew up in Chicago and later in Detroit. She founded the Primettes, a singing group with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, in town in 1958. In between local appearances, the trio spent the next three years at Berry Gordy’s Motown studio in Hitsville USA and eventually convinced Gordy to invite other artists to the booth to support them. They officially signed in 1961 and three years later earned their first in a series of Holland Dozier Holland hits with Where Did Our Love Go.
The US chart winners caused a stir and the group became a household name with a string of instant classics: Baby Love, Stop! In the name of love you can’t hurry and more. Her 1966 album Supremes A ‘Go-Go was the first LP by a women’s group to top the US album charts. The line-up changed – and Ballard died of a heart attack in 1976 – but Wilson stayed with the Supremes until they split in 1977. She began a solo career, went into musical theater, and published a bestselling treatise, Dreamgirl: My Life as the Supreme, in 1986.
Wilson had recently worked with Universal on a number of solo releases, including their 1979 album Red Hot. Last Saturday she posted a clip on YouTube celebrating the news. In a statement to the AP, Gordy said he was “extremely shocked and saddened to hear that a significant member of the Motown family has passed away,” adding that she “was quite a star herself and has continued over the years.” worked hard to strengthen the legacy of the Colonels. Mary Wilson was special to me. She was a trailblazer, a diva and will be greatly missed.