One of the original members of The Supremes – Mary Wilson – died February 8 in her Nevada home as a result of hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease – high blood pressure due to artery blockage – at the age of 76.

Just a few days before her death, Wilson had released a video speaking on her future plans which included new music and a 60th Supremes anniversary.

One of the founding members of the 60’s girl groups, The Supremes helped to define “the Motown sound”.  By the end of the 60’s the Supremes was Motown’s most successful artist with 12 number one hit songs. 

The group broke up in 1977 with Wilson as the only original member remaining.

Motown founder Berry Gordy called Wilson and the Supremes, were the “sweethearts of Motown”.  They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

After the breakup of the Supremes, Wilson went on to launch a solo singing career, become a best selling author, and compete on the competition reality show “Dancing with the Stars”.

In 2001 Wilson was a cast member of the touring troupe for the Broadway musical “Leader of the Pack”.  Her other acting credits include an uncredited appearance in an episode of the “Tarzan” television series, the singer of the “National Anthemn” in “Tiger Town”, “Jackie’s Back!”, and “Golden Shoes”.

As herself, Wilson made over 100 appearances both as a part of the Supremes and solo including documentaries, music shows, game shows, talk shows, and award shows.  She was even a guest judge on an episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”.

She was born on March 6, 1944 in Greenville, Mississippi and lived in St. Louis and Chicago before the family settled in Detroit where she met future fellow Supreme member Florence Ballard while in middle school.  Other school friends include members of The Temptations and Smokey Robinson.

Predeceased by her son Rafael, Wilson is survived by children Turkessa and Pedro.

feature photo credit: By Jay Godwin –, Public Domain,