NATIONAL: Mary Wilson, longest-reigning original Supreme, dies at 76
Published 10:17 am Tuesday, February 9, 2021
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Mary Wilson, the longest-reigning original Supreme, has died at 76 years old.
Wilson died Monday night at her home in Las Vegas and the cause was not immediately clear, said publicist Jay Schwartz.
Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard made up the first successful configuration of The Supremes. Ballard was replaced by Cindy Birdsong in 1967, and Wilson stayed with the group until it was officially disbanded by Motown 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 The Associated Press 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.”
Motown founder Berry Gordy 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 Monday night, according to Variety, said “The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown.’ ”