Why Did Mary Wilson Leave The Supremes?

Mary Wilson, one of the founding members of The Supremes and one of Motown’s greatest artists has died at 76 at her home in Henderson, Nevada. Wilson, along with the other Supremes were one of the biggest musical acts of the 1960s.

The Supremes (Cindy Birdsong, Diana Ross and Mary Wilson), wearing matching sequinned peach dresses with silver necklaces and earrings, during a live concert performance, circa 1965
The Supremes (Cindy Birdsong, Diana Ross and Mary Wilson)| Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Mary Wilson helped define a generation with The Supremes

Wilson came from humble beginnings. She grew up in Brewster-Douglass Projects in Detroit and helped formed The Supremes, then known as the Primettes, in 1959. The original group included Wilson, Betty McGlown, Florence Ballard, and Diana Ross.

The women were just teens when the group was first formed, and they used to visit the Hitsville USA recording studio to get Motown creator Berry Gordy’s attention. It worked, and by 1962, they had become The Supremes and a trio with Ross, Ballard, and Wilson remaining.

Though the group struggled to originally gain the same success of their Motown counterparts, they soon skyrocketed with back-to-back number one singles,  “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me,” “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Back in My Arms Again” amid the Civil Rights Movement.

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What was Mary Wilson’s net worth at the time of her death?

Transcending racial barriers and earning acclaim for their sound, Wilson and The Supremes’ legacy still resonates today.

“We, the Supremes, can’t take all the credit,” Wilson told The Guardian in 2019. “The writers and producers at Motown gave us the music and sound that people loved. And then there was the glamour. My whole life is like a dream. I tell you — if I were not a Supreme, I would want to be a Supreme.”

According to Celebrity Net Worth, she was worth $8 million at the time of Wilson’s death. During The Supremes’ 18 year run, they had 33 top 40 hits and 12 number ones on the Billboard charts.

Mary Wilson left The Supremes in 1977

By 1967, there had been a lot of changes in The Supremes, Ballard had left the group and was replaced by Cindy Birdsong and the group was renamed “Diana Ross and the Supremes.”

“Diane always liked to be the center of attraction,” Ms. Wilson told People in 1986. “If you happened to be in her way while she was going toward the center, that was your fault.”

Just three years later, Ross left the group to embark on a solo career. Diana Ross & the Supremes gave their final performance on Jan. 14, 1970, at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas. Ross was replaced by Jean Terrell, and the group went back to their original name, The Supremes, or “The New Supremes” as they were unofficially called. They continued to see success with hits like, Up the Ladder to the Roof” and “Stoned Love.” 

Wilson remained until the very end when The Supremes disbanded in 1977. In 1979, the singer released her self-titled debut album. She went on to remain in the public eye until her dearth competing on Dancing With the Stars in 2019. She also released a fourth book, Supreme Glamour, which is a collection of the Supremes’ most dazzling gowns.