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Mary Wilson, original member of The Supremes, dies at 76

“I remember that instead of going home on the bus, we flew,” she said 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.1s, 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 tweeted on Tuesday, offering her condolences to Wilson’s family. “I am reminded that each day is a gift,” she added, writing “I have so many wonderful memories of our time together.”

Berry Gordy, who founded the Detroit-based Motown Records, said 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 Supremes (from left) Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson and Diana Ross, perform in 1964.

The Supremes (from left) Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson and Diana Ross, perform in 1964.Credit:AP

“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.

Wilson, in a recent YouTube video posted on Saturday, said she was excited to celebrate black history month, her upcoming birthday (March 6) and teased fans with the announcement that Universal Music had plans to release some of her music.

“We’re going to be talking about the Supremes, yeah, 60th anniversary, and I’m going to be talking a lot about that mainly because I’ve finally decided how to work with Universal and they’re going to release new recordings, Mary Wilson recordings,” she said. “Yes! At last!”

“Hopefully some of that will be out on my birthday,” she continued. “We’ll see. I’ve got my fingers crossed here. Yes I do.”

Several celebrities mourned Wilson’s death on social media, including Viola Davis, Questlove, Andy Cohen, Janet Mock, Ledisi, Richard Marx and Kiss’ Paul Stanley, who said he was in touch with Wilson last week.

“OMG! Mary Wilson of the Supremes has died suddenly. I was just on a Zoom call with her Wednesday for about an hour & never could have imagined this,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “So full of life & great stories. Absolutely shocked. Rest In Supreme Peace Mary.”

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Steven Van Zandt said he spoke to Wilson before the world went into lockdown because of the coronavirus, tweeting on Tuesday: “RIP Mary Wilson. Legendary founding member of the Supremes and fantastic solo artist. I had a wonderful conversation with her just before the quarantine. She was full of energy and plans so this is shocking as well as tragic. Our love and condolences go to her family and friends.”

Following the Supremes’ disbandment, Wilson released the New York Times best-selling book, Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme, in 1986. She released her second book, Supreme Faith: Someday We’ll Be Together, in 1990. Her last book, Supreme Glamour, was written with Mark Bego and was released in 2019.

Wilson also competed on the US version of Dancing with the Stars in 2019.

AP

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