Mary Wilson, a co-founding member of Motown icons The Supremes, has passed away at the age of 76.
Jay Schwartz, Wilson’s longtime publicist, confirmed that the singer died suddenly on Monday night at her home in Las Vegas. The immediate details of the cause of death have not yet been confirmed by Schwartz did say that the funeral services must be a private occasion due to coronavirus restrictions.
“I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supreme,” Berry Gordy in a statement. “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.”
Adding: “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.”
The Supremes, who emerged as the best-charting female group in U.S. history, was founded by Wilson when she was just 15-years-old and living in a Detroit housing project. Alongside Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Betty McGlown, the band changed the course of popular music and acted as a major commercial rival to The Beatles during the peak of their fame in the 1960s.
With hits such as ‘Stop in the Name of Love’, ‘Back in My Arms Again’, ‘Baby Love’ and many more, the Supremes acted as a major example that anything was possible. For Wilson, a mainstay of the band, she acted as the glue between the ever-changing line-up and remained with the band right up until they disbanded in 1977, working prolifically during that time.
While COVID-19 restrictions mean a funeral service must be private, Jay Schwartz did confirm that a public memorial will be held at a later date.