Mary Wilson, one of the founding members of the celebrated Motown group: The Supremes, passed away suddenly in her home last week. The singer-songwriter was 76. As of right now the cause of death is still unknown. However, it is clear that Wilson has left behind a lasting legacy, both in the Motown scene and beyond.
The Supremes were a pioneering force in the music industry and became the most successful Motown act of the 1960s. The group found worldwide success with hits such as “Where Did Our Love Go” and “Baby Love” and are now considered one of the most well known girl groups of all-time. Emerging onto the world-wide stage during the 1960s, the group pioneered the way for future African-American musicians to find mainstream success.
Mary Wilson was born on March 6th, 1944, in Greenville, Mississippi. She later moved to Detroit where she began singing in local talent shows. Wilson was given a spot in a group called The Primettes, along with singers Florence Ballard, Diana Ross, and Betty McGlown. After a few adjustments, including the loss of McGlown, the group signed a record deal with Motown in 1961—under the condition that they change their name to The Supremes. Thus, the newly named trio spent the first half of the 60’s releasing music, with varying degrees of success. But in 1964, the group struck gold with their single “Where Did Our Love Go,” which reached number one on US charts and was quickly followed by four consecutive number one hits—- cementing the group’s lasting legacy in the music world.
Throughout the next decade, the group endured a number of lineup changes, as members of the group continued to leave and be replaced. However, throughout these changes, Wilson remained with the group— becoming the ‘longest-reigning original Supreme.’ Even after Diana Ross’ departure in 1969, which for many fans signaled the end of the Supremes, Wilson continued to stand by the group. Instead of throwing in the towel, Wilson chose to forge ahead with a brand new lineup throughout the 1970s. However, in 1977 Wilson chose to depart from the group— which resulted in the trio disbanding completely.
Following the end of the Supremes, Wilson pursued a solo career, releasing albums such as ‘Mary Wilson’ and ‘Walk the Line,’ according to AP Press. She then went on to write a handful of books about her experience with the group, including the best-seller ‘DreamGirl: My Life as a Supreme.’ In 1988, Mary Wilson, alongside Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And in 2019, Wilson competed on ABC’s ‘Dancing With The Stars.’
Since her sudden passing, fans and friends alike have mourned her legacy and expressed their condolences for the entire Wilson family. On Tuesday, Diana Ross mourned the loss of her friend on Twitter, stating: “…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.”