Diana Ross pays tribute to her 'wonderful' Supremes bandmate Mary Wilson

9 February 2021, 16:28

Diana Ross (left) has paid tribute to her former bandmate from The Supremes, Mary Wilson (right). Pictured c.1965.
Diana Ross (left) has paid tribute to her former bandmate from The Supremes, Mary Wilson (right). Pictured c.1965. Picture: Getty

By Giorgina Hamilton

Singing legend Diana Ross has paid tribute to Mary Wilson after the Motown star's sudden death, aged 76.

Supremes singer Diana Ross has paid tribute to her old bandmate, Mary Wilson.

The original member of The Supremes died on Monday night (February 8) at her home in Las Vegas, her publicist Jay Schwartz confirmed.

See more: The 25 greatest Motown songs ever, ranked

Mary's cause of death was sudden and no cause of death has yet been revealed.

Diana Ross was part of The Supremes from their beginning in 1959 – when they were called The Primettes – to when she went solo in 1970.

Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, and Mary Wilson pictured at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party on February 24, 2019
Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, and Mary Wilson pictured at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party on February 24, 2019. Picture: Getty

Taking to her personal Twitter account this morning (February 9), the star expressed her sadness at waking up to the news of her friend's passing.

“I just woke up to the news, my condolences to you, Mary’s family,” Diana wrote on Twitter.

“I am reminded that each day is a gift, I have so many wonderful memories of our time together. ‘The Supremes’ will live on in our hearts.”

See more: When Diana Ross pulled Boy George on stage for a staggering duet of ‘Upside Down’

Ross's condolences come after Motown label founder, Berry Gordy, gave a statement about Mary Wilson's passing, calling her a “a trailblazer [and] a diva”.

"I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes.

Diana Ross (centre) was part of The Supremes from their beginning in 1959 – when they were called The Primettes – to when she went solo in 1970. Right: Mary Wilson.
Diana Ross (centre) was part of The Supremes from their beginning in 1959 – when they were called The Primettes – to when she went solo in 1970. Right: Mary Wilson. Picture: Getty
“I just woke up to the news, my condolences to you, Mary’s family,” Diana wrote on Twitter regarding Mary Wilson's death (pictured)
“I just woke up to the news, my condolences to you, Mary’s family,” Diana wrote on Twitter regarding Mary Wilson's death (pictured). Picture: Getty

"The Supremes were always known as the “sweethearts of Motown”. Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, came to Motown in the early 1960s.

"After an unprecedented string of No. 1 hits, television and nightclub bookings, they opened doors for themselves, the other Motown acts, and many, many others. … I was always proud of Mary.

See more: Diana Ross fears rare concert film footage may be lost forever

"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."

The Supremes' original members Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross, and Betty McGlown burst onto the music scene in 1959, and with hits such as 'Stop In The Name Of Love' and 'Baby Love', by the mid-1960s were rivaling The Beatles in popularity worldwide.

They started as the sister act to the Primes (including Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks, who went on to form the Temptations). Barbara Martin replaced McGlown in 1960, and the group signed with Motown the following year as The Supremes.

With Martin leaving the group in 1962, Ross, Ballard, and Wilson carried on as a trio. In 1967, Motown's Berry Gordy renamed the group Diana Ross & the Supremes, and replaced Ballard with Cindy Birdsong.

See next: The 10 greatest Supremes songs ever, ranked

In 1970, Ross left for a solo career and was replaced by Jean Terrell, and in the mid-1970s, the lineup saw Lynda Laurence, Scherrie Payne and Susaye Greene joining until the group called it a day in 1977.