Mary Wilson, a founding member of the trailblazing group, The Supremes, one of the biggest musical acts of the 1960s died suddenly on Monday at the age of 76.
Under the Motown Records label, Wilson, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, scored 12 no.1 hits with songs like “Baby Love” and “Stop! In the Name of Love."
The Supremes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
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 2006 film “Dreamgirls”, starring Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson, was loosely based on their story.
Last year, Wilson, who grew up in a housing project in Detroit, spoke to Reuters about what it was like being a successful Black woman during a time of overt racism in the United States.
"I have to drink out of water fountains that for colored people only, and if I drink anything else, they would be hanging me. And we were shopping at stores, people would follow me around. And when they found that we were Supremes, we were making money, then they wanted to sell us everything in the store. They would close the stores up for us. But if we were not famous and there were very few of us who were famous, you know, if I didn't have all my makeup on and my wigs and, you know, all that kind of stuff, and I go just as a Black woman, you know, people were not very nice to me because I was Black. But once you start making money and you become famous then you're something special."
Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, paid tribute to Wilson following the news of her death, saying (quote) “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.”
Her publicist said the singer died at her home in Henderson, Nevada. No cause of death was released.
A funeral service for Wilson will be private.. though a celebration of her life is expected later in the year.