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Mary Wilson, Supremes co-founder, dies suddenly aged 76

Mary Wilson
(Image credit: Donaldson Collection / Getty)

Mary Wilson, a founding member of The Supremes, has died suddenly at her Nevada home, confirmed publicist Jay Schwartz this morning. No cause of death has been announced.

Mary Wilson was extremely special to me. She was a trailblazer, a diva and will be deeply missed

Motown founder Berry Gordy

Wilson joined the Supremes - initially known as the Primettes - at the group's inception, when she was 15 years old. She was one of four original members alongside Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Barbara Martin. After Martin left, the band continued as a trio. 

Mary Wilson

Mary Wilson, centre, with fellow Supremes Florence Ballard, left, and Diana Ross, right (Image credit: Bettmann / Getty)

The band had 12 number 1 hits in the US, becoming the barnstorming Motown stable's most successful group of the 1960s. Their hits included enduring classics like Baby Love, You Keep Me Hangin' On and You Can't Hurry Love.

The Supremes disbanded in 1977 when Wilson left the group, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. 

Tributes to "the sweethearts of Motown" were led by label founder Berry Gordy. "Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, came to Motown in the early 1960’s," his statement reads.

"After an unprecedented string of number one hits, television and nightclub bookings, they opened doors for themselves, the other Motown acts, and many, many others.

"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."

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