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The Supremes co-founder Mary Wilson dies aged 76

09 February 2021 - 14:20 By Reuters
Singer Mary Wilson, a founding member of the Motown female singing group The Supremes.
Singer Mary Wilson, a founding member of the Motown female singing group The Supremes.
Image: REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Mary Wilson, a founding member of The Supremes, has died at the age of 76, her publicist has said.

Wilson died suddenly in her home in Henderson, Nevada, on Monday. A statement confirming her passing did not state a cause of death.

Wilson, a singer and best-selling author, helped form female singing group The Primettes in Detroit in 1959 alongside Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Betty McGlown. The latter left the group and was replaced. Wilson, Ross and Ballard went on to enjoy huge success as trio The Supremes.

Under the Motown Records label, the group scored 12 No 1 hits with songs including Baby Love and Stop! In the Name of Love, and still remains influential decades later.

Wilson stayed on with The Supremes after other original members left and new ones joined the line-up. The group split in 1977 and she pursued a solo career.

“The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown’,” Motown founder Berry Gordy said.

“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. She was a trailblazer, a diva and will be deeply missed.”

The Supremes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. The 2006 film Dreamgirls, starring Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson, was loosely based on their story.

Her publicist said due to Covid-19 restrictions, a funeral service for Wilson will be private. A celebration of her life is expected later in the year.