Mary Wilson, The Supremes co-founder, dies aged 76

Kristine Tarbert
·Features and Health Editor
·2-min read

Mary Wilson, the co-founder of The Supremes and a Motown icon, has died at the age of 76.

Her publicist Jay Schwartz confirmed to US media the singer had died suddenly in her Las Vegas home on February 8.

Mary Wilson attends the 28th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards in 2020

Mary Wilson has died. Photo: Getty

"The Supremes were always known as the 'sweethearts of Motown'," founder of the groups Motown record label, Berry Gordy, said in a statement.

"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 ... She was a trailblazer, a diva and will be deeply missed."

Only two days ago Mary uploaded a short clip to YouTube celebrating Black history month and announcing: "Exciting news about The Supremes, Florence Ballard and unreleased materials."

A statement confirming her passing did not reveal a cause of death.

Mary Wilson attends the Universal Music Group Hosts 2020 Grammy After Party on January 26, 2020

Mary Wilson co-founded The Supremes when she was just 15. Photo: Getty

Born March 12 1944 in Greenville, Mississippi, Mary was brought up by her aunt and uncle, before moving to Detroit with her mother when she was 12.

Mary founded the US group The Supremes aged 15 while living in a Detroit housing project, according to Variety, and continued with the band long after lead singer Diana Ross' departure, eventually going on to be inducted into the 1988 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Rockefeller Plaza, New York, Diana Ross, Cindy Birdsong (left) and Mary Wilson (right)

Diana Ross is joined by Cindy Birdsong (left) and Mary Wilson (right) in 1983, the first time they'd sung together since Ross left The Supremes. Photo: AP

Despite limited early success, the band struck it big in the late sixties with hits like "Stop! In the Name of Love" and "Baby Love".

But following Diana's departure in 1970 for a solo career the group never regained its dominance on the US charts, but did enjoy some hits such as "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Stoned Love".

In 1974 Mary married Pedro Ferrer, but the couple divorced in 1981.

She is survived by their two children, daughter Turkessa and son Pedro Antonio Jr., as well as 10 grandchildren.

Additonal reporting by AFP.

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