‘The Supremes’ Founder Dies, 76

The Supremes were Motown’s most successful act of the 1960s

USA TODAY – Singer Mary Wilson, who co-founded the legendary Motown group The Supremes, died suddenly Monday night at her home in Henderson, Nevada, according to her longtime publicist Jay Schwartz. She was 76.

“We are devastated,” Schwartz said in a statement to USA TODAY. No cause of death was given.

At 15, Wilson was a founding member of the hit-making group that started as a quartet called The Primettes – formed with her Detroit housing project neighbor Diana Ross, Betty McGlown and Florence Ballard.

The Primettes lobbied Motown founder Berry Gordy to sign them to his record label. He finally agreed if the young group changed its name.

On January 15, 1961, the Primettes officially became The Supremes, and then became a trio in 1962 – with Ross, Ballard and Wilson.

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Wilson told the Detroit Free Press in 2015:

“We had no clue what was coming.

“Had never wanted to be a singer, never thought about being a singer. … We were just doing this as fun.

“It was not something like ‘Oh, we’re going to become singers,’ like today where everyone wants to be a star.

“(But) as soon as we started singing in the Primettes, we became very aware that this is what we wanted to do the rest of our lives. At 13, I knew this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. We were hooked.”

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The influential group’s first No. 1, million-selling song, “Where Did Our Love Go,” was released June 17, 1964.

The Supremes were Motown’s most successful act of the 1960s, scoring 12 No. 1 singles, including “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Baby Love” … 

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