Mary Wilson Dead: Supremes Co-Founder Dies Suddenly at 76

Mary Wilson death

Getty Mary Wilson, a co-founder of The Supremes, died suddenly on February 8, 2021.

Mary Wilson, singer and co-founder of the iconic group, The Supremes, died suddenly on February 8, 2021, as first reported by Variety. She was 76.

Wilson’s friend and publicist, Jay Schwartz, said she died at her home in Las Vegas. A cause of death was not immediately revealed.

“I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes,” said Berry Gordy in a statement to Variety.

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. … 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.

Mary Wilson of the Supremes Acceptance Speech at 1988 Hall of Fame Induction CeremonyMary Wilson and Florence Ballard's daughter, Lisa Chapman Ballard, accept on behalf of The Supremes at the 1988 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Looking for more Induction Ceremony memories from The Supremes? Visit the group's official Hall of Fame online bio: Dive into the full 1988 Induction Ceremony video collection at…2020-05-18T20:37:58Z

The Supremes, which Wilson helped form when she was just 15-years-old, were originally called The Primettes before changing their name. They released five No.1 hit songs between 1964 and 1965, including “Stop! In the Name of Love,” and “Baby Love.”

Diana Ross & The Supremes – Stop! In The Name Of LoveStop! In The Name Of Love by Diana Ross & The Supremes. Written by Holland-Dozier-Holland. Lead vocals by Diana Ross. Background vocals by Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard Ripped from the album "More Hits by The Supremes" Released on February 8, 1965 Enjoy!2013-11-01T14:14:09Z

The Supremes, which eventually became known as Diana Ross and the Supremes, was formed with Ross, Wilson, and Florence Ballard. However, the latter was replaced with Cindy Birdsong in 1967. Ballard died of a heart attack at age 32.

Mary Wilson Gets Emotional Remembering Florence BallardMary Wilson will always come to the defense of Florence Ballard. Hear more from Radio Andy on our app! Click here for your trial subscription: Subscribe to SiriusXM on YouTube: Connect with SiriusXM Online Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: You can hear entire episodes of SiriusXM programming on SiriusXM On Demand. For…2019-09-24T21:13:51Z

The Supremes received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 11, 1994.

In 1986, Wilson published her memoir, Dreamgirl: My Life As a Supreme. In 2019, she released the fictional novel, Supreme Glamour.

Here’s what you need to know about Mary Wilson:

1. Wilson Discussed a Possible Supremes Reunion in January, ‘It’s Really Up to Diana’

GettyPopular vocal soul group Diana Ross And The Supremes.

It was just a month ago the Wilson was discussing the likelihood that The Supremes could have a reunion. She told The Holywood Reporter in January:

Well, let’s put it this way: It’s really up to Diana. I don’t think she wants to do that. It doesn’t make sense unless you come together lovingly. Or at least have an understanding. It can be an understanding, that’s fine. But I don’t think she does want to. So therefore I’m going on with my life. I look at it like this, especially with this pandemic: Who knows when the end may come. And at 76 and a half years old I’m not going to sit around waiting for something. As my mother used to say, don’t cry over spilled milk. I have too much to live for now and be happy about.

Wilson also reminisced about the group in their early days. “We sat outside Motown every day until one of the producers came out and said, ‘You know what, we need some background hand claps.’ When Gordy saw how ‘serious’ they were, he signed the group. “Our parents had to actually sign the contract because we were underage.”

2. The Supremes Split Up Went After Ross Went Solo

GettyAmerican Motown pop vocal trio The Supremes; Mary Wilson, Cindy Birdsong and Diana Ross (center).

The Supremes were massively popular throughout the ’60s. They released a total of 12 No. 1 hit singles as a group, including “Back in My Arms Again,” “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

In 1970, when Ross decided to go solo, the group disbanded. In 1988, Wilson, Ross, and Ballard were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

3. Wilson Had 3 Children With Ex-Husband Pedro Ferrer

GettySinger Mary Wilson of The Supremes attends the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Wilson married Pedro Ferrer in Las Vegas on May 11, 1974, Closer Weekly reported. The couple had three children together: Turkessa, Pedro Antonio Jr., and Rafael. Wilson and Ferrer divorced in 1981.

Rafael tragically died in 1994 at age 16. Wilson and her son were traveling on Interstate 15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas when they were involved in a car crash. Their Jeep Cherokee spun off the highway and overturned. While Wilson’s injuries were minor, her son never recovered.

4. Wilson Said She Never Recovered From the Death of Her Son

GettyMary Wilson (C) of ‘The Supremes’ joins other cast as they pose during rehearsal for ‘The Motown Event’ in Sydney on February 11, 2010.

The pop icon opened up about the death of her son on the Dan Wooton Interview, according to Closer Weekly.

Wilson said, “It’s like a hole but you’ve still got your heart, you still have your heart. And I think that’s what got me through, still having that heart and knowing life can be up and it can be down and you’ve got to learn how to roll with the punches as they say. I mean I’m not over it, I’ll never be over it.”

“I have his picture all over my house and sometimes I will look at it and I’ll just burst into tears,” she continued. “And sometimes I’ll just smile, you know, you’ve just got to, something in you, you’ve got to have that.”

5. Tributes Filled Twitter Following the News of Wilson’s Sudden Death

Tributes to the legendary Motown singer filled Twitter on Monday evening. While Wilson was an idol to many, according to the singer, she was just “normal.”

In 2019, Wilson said to The Guardian, “I tell my daughter: “I’m very normal” and she says “Mom: you’re not normal”. I’ve gone incognito, to the grocery store, no make-up on, and been recognized. I’m like: “How can you tell?” And they’re like: “Oh girl, we can tell”. I told one: “I wish I was Mary Wilson – I wish I had her money!”

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