A Rockapaedia Obituary
Band: The Supremes
Mary Wilson died aged seventy-six on 8th of February, 2021 in Henderson, Nevada, United States of America from hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Mary was interred next to her son Rafael at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City and was survived by a daughter, Turkessa a son, Pedro Antonio Jr and ten grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
Mary Wilson was born on 6th March, 1944, in Greenville, Mississippi, UInited States of America. She was the eldest of three children including a brother, Roosevelt, and a sister, Cathy. The Wilson family moved to Chicago, but at age three, Mary was taken in by her aunt Ivory "I.V." and uncle John in Detroit. Her parents eventually separated and Mary’s mother and siblings later joined her in Detroit, though by then Mary had come to believe I.V. was her real mother. Mary and family had settled in a housing project in Detroit where she first met Florence Ballard and the duo became friends while singing in their school's talent show. In 1959, Florence Ballard asked Mary Wilson to audition for Milton Jenkins, who was forming a sister group to his male vocal trio, the Primes, two members of which were later in The Temptations). Mary Wilson was soon accepted into the group known as The Primettes, with Diana Ross and Betty McGlown, who lived in the same housing project with Mary Wilson and Ballard.
The Primettes signed to Motown Records in 1961, changing the group's name to The Supremes. In between that period, Betty McGlown left to get married and was replaced by Barbara Martin. In 1962, the group was reduced to a trio after Barbara Martin's departure. The Supremes scored their first hit in 1963 with the song, "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes", and reached Number one on the pop charts for the first time with the hit, "Where Did Our Love Go", becoming their first of twelve number one singles.
By 1964, the group had become international superstars. In 1967, Motown president Berry Gordy changed the name of the group to Diana Ross & The Supremes and, after a period of tension, Florence Ballard was removed from the Supremes that July. Cindy Birdsong was chosen to take her place. The new line-up continued to record hit singles, although several stalled outside the top 20 chart range. Diana Ross left the group in early 1970, and at her farewell performance Jean Terrell was introduced as the replacement for Ross. According to Mary Wilson in her memoirs, Berry Gordy told her that he thought of having Syreeta Wright join the group in a last-minute change, after Terrell had already been introduced as lead singer, to which Mary Wilson refused. Mary Wilson contributed lead or co-lead vocals to several Supremes songs, including the hits "Floy Joy" and "Automatically Sunshine", and the title track of the 1971 album Touch.
In late 1977, Mary Wilson left The Supremes, following a farewell performance at London's Drury Lane Theatre. After Payne and Greene unsuccessfully lobbied to get a replacement for Mary Wilson, the Supremes officially disbanded. Mary Wilson became involved in a protracted legal battle with Motown over management of the Supremes. After an out-of-court settlement, Mary Wilson signed with Motown for solo work, releasing a disco-heavy self-titled album in 1979. A single from the album, "Red Hot", had a modest showing of Number 90 on the pop charts. Midway through production of a second solo album in 1980, Motown dropped her from its roster. Throughout the mid-1980s, Mary Wilson focused on performances in musical theater productions, including Beehive, Dancing in the Streets, and Supreme Soul.
Mary Wilson released two singles on iTunes, "Life's Been Good To Me" and "Darling Mother (Johnnie Mae)", in 2011 and 2013, respectively. In 2015, Mary Wilson released a new single, "Time To Move On", produced by Sweet Feet Music; the song reached the Top 20 on the Billboard Dance charts history, peaking at number 17 as of December 26.
In August, 2019, Mary Wilson published her fourth book, Supreme Glamour with co-author Mark Bego, dedicated to the history of the Supremes and their fashion with a detailed section dedicated to the Supremes gowns in her collection. Mary Mary Wilson's last single "Why Can't We All Get Along" was released posthumously on 5th March, 2021.