FILE - In this April 4, 2019, file photo, Mary Wilson, a former member of The Supremes, is escorted after singing the national anthem before a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals in Detroit. Wilson died in Las Vegas, publicist Jay Schwartz told KABC-TV. When she died and other details weren’t immediately clear. She was 76. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

FILE - In this April 4, 2019, file photo, Mary Wilson, a former member of The Supremes, is escorted after singing the national anthem before a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals in Detroit. Wilson died in Las Vegas, publicist Jay Schwartz told KABC-TV. When she died and other details weren’t immediately clear. She was 76. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

Mary Wilson of the Supremes dead at 76

Artist posted YouTube video announcing work on new music just days before her death

Mary Wilson, one of the original members of the Supremes, the 1960s group that helped establish the Motown sound and propelled Diana Ross to superstardom, has died. She was 76.

Wilson died Monday night at her home in Nevada and the cause was not immediately clear, said publicist Jay Schwartz.

Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard made up the first successful configuration of The Supremes, Motown’s first and most commercially successful girl group. Ballard was replaced by Cindy Birdsong in 1967, and Wilson stayed with the group until it was officially disbanded in 1977.

The group’s first No. 1, million-selling song, “Where Did Our Love Go,” was released June 17, 1964. Touring at the time, Wilson said there was a moment when she realized they had a hit song.

“I remember that instead of going home on the bus, we flew,” she told The Associated Press in 2014. “That was our first plane ride. We flew home. We had really hit big.”

It would be the first of five consecutive No. 1s, with “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me,” “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Back in My Arms Again” following in quick succession. The Supremes also recorded the hit songs “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Up the Ladder to the Roof” and “Love Child.”

“I just woke up to this news,” Ross tweeted on Tuesday, offering her condolences to Wilson’s family. “I am reminded that each day is a gift,” she added, writing “I have so many wonderful memories of our time together.”

Berry Gordy, who founded the Detroit-based Motown Records, said he was “extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes.” His statement Monday night, according to Variety, said “The Supremes were always known as the `sweethearts of Motown.”’

Wilson, Ross and Ballard were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

READ ALSO: Canadian actor Christopher Plummer dies at 91

“The world has lost one of the brightest stars in our Motown family. Mary Wilson was an icon,” Motown Museum Chairwoman and CEO Robin Terry said in a statement.

Wilson, in a recent YouTube video posted Saturday, said she was excited to celebrate Black history month, her upcoming birthday (March 6) and teased fans with the announcement that Universal Music had plans to release some of her music.

“We’re going to be talking about the Supremes, yeah, 60th anniversary, and I’m going to be talking a lot about that mainly because I’ve finally decided how to work with Universal and they’re going to release new recordings, Mary Wilson recordings,” she said. “Yes! At last!”

“Hopefully some of that will be out on my birthday,” she continued. “We’ll see. I’ve got my fingers crossed here. Yes I do.”

Several celebrities mourned Wilson’s death on social media, including Viola Davis, Questlove, Andy Cohen, Janet Mock, Ledisi, Richard Marx and Kiss’ Paul Stanley, who said he was in touch with Wilson last week.

“OMG! Mary Wilson of the Supremes has died suddenly. I was just on a Zoom call with her Wednesday for about an hour & never could have imagined this,” he tweeted Tuesday. “So full of life & great stories. Absolutely shocked. Rest In Supreme Peace Mary.”

Steven Van Zandt said he spoke to Wilson before the world went on lockdown because of the coronavirus, tweeting Tuesday: “RIP Mary Wilson. Legendary founding member of the Supremes and fantastic solo artist. I had a wonderful conversation with her just before the quarantine. She was full of energy and plans so this is shocking as well as tragic. Our love and condolences go to her family and friends.”

Following the Supremes’ disbandment, Wilson released the New York Times bestselling book, “Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme,” in 1986. She released her second book, “Supreme Faith: Someday We’ll Be Together,” in 1990. Her last book, “Supreme Glamour,” was written with Mark Bego and was released in 2019.

Wilson also competed on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” in 2019.

Arts and EntertainmentObituaries

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Devin Martinson sent in some views that caught his eye. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Urban and rural views of Maple Ridge

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Ron Paley didn’t let the rain stop him from exploring Golden Ears Park on Alouette Mountain recently. (Special to The News)
SHARE: The eerie beauty of Golden Ears Park

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Steven Powell is extremely grateful for the help staff and store owners at Valley Fair Mall have provided. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)
Community rallies to replace disabled man’s stolen trike

Steven Powell’s work mates are raising funds to purchase him a new set of wheels

(Black Press - file photo)
WEATHER: Enjoy the sun today, prepare for a week of rain

Clouds and rain to arrive by evening, Environment Canada forecasts

Maureen Jeknavorian explored Kanaka Creek Regional Park recently. (Special to The News)
SHARE: The big skies of Kanaka Creek Regional Park

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Most Read