By David Aaro
Mary Wilson, the legendary Motown singer and founding member of The Supremes, died Monday, her publicist announced. She was 76.
Wilson passed away suddenly at her home in Nevada, according to a statement from her longtime friend and publicist, Jay Schwartz, reports said. No cause of death was given.
As an original member of The Supremes, Wilson helped break down racial and gender barriers, during her time with the Motown group, which was founded in Detroit as The Primettes in 1959.
After signing with Barry Gordy in 1961, The Supremes would become one of Motown’s best-known acts and one of the best-selling girl groups of all time, with 12 number one hits including, “Baby Love”, “Where Did Our Love Go” and “Come See About Me.”
The Supremes’ record “Stop! In the Name of Love!,” which also topped the charts, was released on Feb. 8, 1965, exactly 56 years prior to her death.
“I was always proud of Mary,” Gordy, who founded Motown, said in a statement, according to KCBS-TV of Los Angeles. “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 dive and will be deeply missed.”
Wilson, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard made up the first successful configuration of The Supremes. She was the longest-reigning original member, staying with the group until it was officially disbanded by Motown in 1977.
Funeral services will be private because of COVID-19, Schwartz said, according to the station