LONDON, February 9 (Reuters) – Mary Wilson, founding member of The Supremes, has died at the age of 76, her press secretary said.
Wilson died suddenly at her home in Henderson, Nevada, on Monday. A statement confirming his death did not indicate the cause of death.
Wilson, a successful singer and songwriter, helped form the female singing group The Primettes in Detroit in 1959, alongside Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Betty McGlown. The latter left the group and was replaced. Wilson, Ross and Ballard have enjoyed huge success as the trio The Supremes.
Under the Motown Records label, the band recorded 12 No.1 hits with songs like “Baby Love” and “Stop! In the Name of Love”, and are still influential decades later.
Wilson stayed with The Supremes even after other original members left and new members joined the lineup. The group broke up in 1977 and she pursued a solo career.
“The Supremes have always been known as the ‘darlings of Motown’,” Motown founder Berry Gordy said in a statement.
“I’ve always been proud of Mary. She was a star in her own right and over the years she continued to work hard to strengthen the legacy of the Supremes… She was a trailblazer, a diva and will be sorely missed.”
The Supremes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. The 2006 film “Dreamgirls”, starring Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson, was loosely based on their story.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Wilson’s funeral will be private, the statement said. A celebration of his life is expected later in the year.
(Report by Marie-Louise Gumuchian Editing by Alexandra Hudson)
Singer Mary Wilson, former member of The Supremes, greets the photographers during the exhibition “The Story of The Supremes” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on May 12, 2008. REUTERS / Alessia Pierdomenico / File Photo