Mary Wilson, a founding member of The Supremes, has died at the age of 76, her publicist has said.
Wilson died suddenly at her home in Henderson, Nevada, on Monday. A statement confirming her passing did not state a cause of death.
Wilson, a singer as well as best-selling author, helped form female singing group The Primettes in Detroit in 1959, alongside Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Betty McGlown. The latter left the group and was replaced. Wilson, Ross and Ballard went on to enjoy huge success as trio The Supremes.
Under the Motown Records label, the group became one of the most successful female groups in music history. The trio scored 12 no. 1 hits with songs like “Baby Love” and “Stop! In the Name of Love”, and still remains influential decades later.
Wilson stayed on with The Supremes even after other original members left and new ones joined the line-up. The group split in 1977 and she pursued a solo career. The group continued to see success after Ross’ departure with hits including Up The Ladder To The Roof, Stoned Love and Nathan Jones.
“The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown’,” Motown founder Berry Gordy said in a statement.
“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 … She was a trailblazer, a diva and will be deeply missed.”
The Supremes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. The 2006 film “Dreamgirls”, starring Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson, was loosely based on their story.
Due to COVID–19 restrictions, a funeral service for Wilson will be private, the statement said. A celebration of her life is expected later in the year.
(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)