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Mary Wilson, founding and original member of The Supremes, dies at 76

4Photo ID Left to Right - Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard - Photo Credit Courtesy Motown Archives.jpg
Posted at 5:07 AM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 23:13:31-05

(WXYZ) — Mary Wilson, founding and original member of The Supremes, passed away at her home in Henderson, Nevada. She was 76.

As an original/founding member of The Supremes, she changed the face of pop music to become a trendsetter who broke down social, racial, and gender barriers, which all started with the wild success of their first number one song. Formed in Detroit as The Primettes in 1959, The Supremes were Motown’s most successful act of the 1960s, scoring 12 No. 1 singles.

Mary achieved an unprecedented 12 #1 hits with 5 of them being consecutive from 1964-1965. Those songs are “Where Did Our Love Go”, “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me”, “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Back in My Arms Again” according to Billboard Magazine.

In 2018, Billboard celebrated the 60th anniversary of Motown with a list of “The Hot 100’s Top Artists of All Time”, where The Supremes ranked at #16 and still remain the #1 female recording group of all time. January 21, 2021 marked the 60th anniversary of the day The Supremes signed with Motown in 1961. This year, Mary kicked off the celebration of the 60th anniversary of The Supremes.

Berry Gordy released this statement following Wilson's death:

I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes.

The Supremes were always known as the “sweethearts of Motown.” Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, came to Motown in the early 1960’s. After an unprecedented string of number one 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.

Motown Museum Chairwoman and CEO Robin Terry released the following statement:

In this moment of extreme sadness, the world has lost one of the brightest stars in our Motown family. Mary Wilson was an icon. She broke barriers and records as an original member of the Supremes, one of the greatest music acts of all time. She was a legend who was not only extremely talented, but equally beautiful. We join Mary’s fervent fan base in remembering her life and profound cultural impact. Motown Museum will continue to honor, appreciate and celebrate her legacy for fans around the world and for generations to come.

Terry invites fans to share their thoughts, memories, and photos on Motown Museum's social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.