Mary Wilson, a founder and original member of The Supremes, has died. She was 76.
Monday, her publicist and longtime friend, Jay Schwartz, released a statement indicating that Wilson “passed away suddenly” in her home in Henderson, Nevada.
As a 15-year-old girl from the Detroit Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects, Wilson, along with Florence Ballard and Diana Ross, formed one of the most successful Motown acts of the 1960s and the best-charting female group in U.S. history.
“She was a trailblazer, a diva, and will be deeply missed,” Motown Records founder Berry Gordy said.
Originally called The Primettes, the group changed their name to The Supremes after signing to Motown Records in 1961. By 1964, the group had become international superstars.
In 1967, Gordy changed the name of the group to Diana Ross & The Supremes. Original group members Florence Ballard left the group that same year with Diana Ross following in 1970. However, Wilson would continue in the group with new members until 1977.
She later found success, releasing her New York Times best-selling autobiography in 1986, Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme. She followed with a second memoir, a best seller, Supreme Faith: Someday We’ll Be Together.
“I woke up to this news. My condolences to you Mary’s family,” Ross tweeted. “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.”
In 1988, Wilson was inducted along with Ross and Ballard into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The singer never slowed down on or off the stage. “Wilson used her fame and flair to promote a diversity of humanitarian efforts including ending hunger, raising HIV/AIDS awareness, and encouraging world peace,” the publicist said.
The Motown legend is survived by her daughter, son, sister, brother, and other family and friends.