The Supremes’ Co-Founder Mary Wilson Dies at 76

Berry Gordy and Diana Ross share their condolences, and The Motown Museum encourages fans to post love for the late singer on their social media pages
Mary Wilson
Mary Wilson photograph courtesy of The Motown Museum

Mary Wilson, co-founder of the successful Motown female group the Supremes, has died. She was 76 years old.

Wilson, who grew up in the Brewster-Douglass Projects in Detroit, was an original member of The Supremes with Diana Ross and Flo Ballard. The group was founded in 1962, and scored 12 No. 1 singles on the Billboard charts, including five in a row from 1964 to 1965 with “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me,” “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Back in My Arms Again.” The Supremes’ is considered Motown’s most successful group of the ’60s. Wilson stayed with The Supremes until the group disbanded in 1977 and was its longest-reigning original member.

Following the announcement of her death this morning, Ross took to Twitter to share her condolences. “I just woke up to this news, my condolences to you Mary’s family, 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,” she wrote.

Motown founder Berry Gordy also shared a message. “I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes,” says Gordy. “… 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. Mary Wilson was extremely special to me. She was a trailblazer, a diva, and will be deeply missed.” His statement is published in full here.

In light of Wilson’s death, the Motown Museum is asking fans to share their love and memories of her on the museum’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.

“In this moment of extreme sadness, the world has lost one of the brightest stars in our Motown family,” says Motown Museum Chairwoman and CEO Robin Terry in a press release. “Mary Wilson was an icon. She broke barriers and records as an original member of the Supremes, one of the greatest music acts of all time. She was a legend who was not only extremely talented, but equally beautiful. We join Mary’s fervent fan base in remembering her life and profound cultural impact. Motown Museum will continue to honor, appreciate and celebrate her legacy for fans around the world and for generations to come.”