Mary Wilson, the legendary “girl group” of Motown, co-founder of The Supremes, is dead. He was 76 years old.
His long-time publicist, Jay Schwartz, confirmed in a statement that he died suddenly at his home in Las Vegas on Monday. The cause of his death has not yet been announced and funeral services will be private due to the limitations of COVID-19, Schwartz said, but a public memorial is planned for the end of this year.
Wilson started the iconic pop and soul trio – famous for their silky layers and elegant, synchronized choreography – in the company of Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, after signing to Motown in 1961, when she was only 15, originally a member of The Primettes. Berry Gordy, the publisher’s founder, soon renamed them The Supremes.
“I just woke up to this news, my condolences to Mary’s family, a reminder that every day is a gift” – Ross, with whom Wilson often had a fierce public relationship tweeted on Tuesday morning. “I have so many wonderful memories of the time we spent together.” The Supremes continue to live in our hearts. “
Wilson, induced by the 1988 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was also legendary by staying with her persistent group after the breakout singer Ross embarked on a solo career in 1970, and by winning a defeated legal battle for artists ’rights, which he detailed. presented in his 1986 bombing memoir, “Dreamgirl: My Life as Supreme.”
Ballard was replaced by Cindy Birdsong in 1967, and Wilson remained until The Supremes were officially dissolved by Motown in 1977.
“I was extremely shocked and sad to hear about the passing of one of the main members of the Motown family, Mary Wilson, the Supreme,” Gordy, the Motown guru, said in a statement tonight. “The Supreme is always known as‘ Motown lovers ’. Together with Mary Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, she joined Motown in the early 1960s. After an unprecedented number of first hits, television and entertainment bookings, they opened doors for themselves, other Motown performances, and more. “
Gordy continued, “I’ve always been proud of Mary.” He was quite a star in his own right, and over the years he continued to work hard to increase the legacy of the Supreme. Mary Wilson was extremely special to me. He was a pioneer, a diva, and he will be greatly missed.
On Saturday, Wilson released a poignant YouTube video announcing that a deal to distribute previously unreleased solo recordings is in the Universal Power Music industry. He also teased the upcoming interviews he had about his early experiences of segregation in honor of Black History Month.
“Hopefully some of these will be released on my birthday, March 6,” said Wilson, who appeared in season 28 of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” and released his fourth book, “Supreme Glamor,” in 2019.
Born on March 6, 1944, in Greenville, Mississippi, he teased the country with his parents until he was sent to live with an aunt and uncle at the age of three. In his autobiography, he wrote that he did not meet his parents until he was 6 years old – and later settled with his mother at the age of 12 in the Brewster-Douglass house project in Detroit.
In this humble setting, you can meet future superstar buddies Ross and Ballard, with whom he created a group that will serve as the “brother” of Primes, a male actor in which Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks, Motown are tempted.
The first song of the Supremes, sold in one million copies, “Where Did Our Love Go,” was released on June 17, 1964. On the tour at the time, Wilson said there was a watershed moment when he was struck by He he had a hit record.
“I remember that instead of going home by bus, we flew,” the Associated Press said in 2014. “It was our first plane trip. We flew home. We got really big.
This would be the first of five consecutive charts, “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me,” Stop! In the name of love ”and“ Quickly in my arms again ”in quick succession. The Supremes have also recorded the hits “Love Can’t Hurry,” “Up the Ladder to the Roof,” and “Love Child,” while blurring the boundaries between colorful and out-of-color women.
Ross began his solo career in 1968. “Some Day We’ll Be Together” topped the Supremes swan song in December 1969 topped the pop and R&B charts. The single was the show’s last performance on top of American pop. chart.
Wilson married a businessman in 1977 with a former manager of the Supremes in Las Vegas. The couple had three children – Turkessa, Pedro Antonio Jr. and Rafael – before they divorced in 1981.
Rafael died tragically at the age of 14 when his Jeep turned on a road between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, injuring Wilson and killing his son.
Over the years, Wilson has publicly spared in the press with Ross – whom he has always referred to by his sharp name as his birth name: Diane.
“I’m sure people have their own opinions on this, but I don’t really care,” said Wilson, who defended himself in a 1986 interview with Jet magazine. “The most important thing is that when I joined the group, I maintained my position and didn’t step into Diane’s position. I’m not in the group now. I have to maintain my own position, and that is not in the background.
A 2000 Supremes meeting spectacularly fell apart after a long and nasty battle over Wilson’s salary, which he said was offensive to his bandmate “The Boss”. He publicly stated that it was a fraction of Ross’s $ 15 million.
Nevertheless, Wilson has performed regularly in Las Vegas and in concert halls across the country. In 2015, she released her last single, “Time to Move On,” which ranked 23rd on the Billboard dance chart.
At the time of his death, his publicist said Wilson was working to try to obtain the American postage stamp he had sentenced Ballard, his Supreme Companion, and Tony-winning Jennifer Holiday and Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson in the musical and film “Dreamgirls,” to death. ill.
One of Wilson’s activist efforts was to travel to Washington to lobby for the Music Modernization Act, which was passed in 2018.
His two children, Turkessa and Pedro Antonio Jr., and seven grandchildren survived: Mia, Marcanthony, Marina, Isaiah, Ilah, Alexander and Alexandria.
Instead of flowers, Wilson’s family asked fans to support UNCF.org and the Humpty Dumpty Institute.