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 on Monday night at her home in Nevada and the cause was not immediately clear, publicist Jay Schwartz said.
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 reporters 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. 1 songs, 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 wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, offering her condolences to Wilson’s family.
“I am reminded that each day is a gift,” she added. “I have so many wonderful memories of our time together.”
Berry Gordy, founder of Detroit-based Motown Records, said that 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 on 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.
“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.
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