In 1959, a vocal group called The Primettes was founded in Detroit, Michigan. The four founding members were Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Diana Ross, and Betty McGlown.
Eventually, The Primettes adopted a new name, and became The Supremes. McGlown left the group, and Ballard, Wilson, and Ross performed as The Supremes with a new member, Barbara Martin. Martin left in 1962, and Ballard, Ross, and Wilson went on as a trio, and became a smash sensation. They were known as the #1 act from Motown Records.
The group underwent a number of changes through the years, as old members left and new ones joined. When The Supremes disbanded in 1977, Wilson was the only founding member who was still involved.
Today, The Supremes rank as the most successful singing group in the United States. They earned 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100.
Some of their most recognizable tunes include “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Baby Love,” and “Stop! In the Name of Love.”
Ballard passed away in 1976, McGlown died in 2008, and Martin passed in 2020. Sadly, Wilson recently passed away as well.
Wilson’s publicist, Jay Schwartz, provided a statement to NBC News to announce she had passed away at her home in Las Vegas on Monday (February 8). She was 76 years old. No cause of death was stated.
Berry Gordy, the founder of the Motown record label, also provided a statement to NBC News about Wilson’s passing:
“The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown,” Gordy said. “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…She was a trailblazer, a diva and will be deeply missed.”
Ross is now the only surviving original member of The Supremes. After learning of Wilson’s death, she tweeted, “I just woke up to this news , my condolences to you Mary’s family ,I am reminded that each day is a gift.”
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
Wilson’s representatives said her funeral services will be private due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But a celebration of her life will take place later this year.
Those who wish to pay tribute to Wilson can do so by showing their support to the United Negro College Fund or the Humpty Dumpty Institute.
Our hearts go out to all of Wilson’s friends and loved ones during this sad time. She was a true icon, and will be missed.