Mary Wilson talks possible Supremes reunion
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Someday they’ll be together — well, maybe.
Mary Wilson, the longest-reigning member of the original Supremes, is open to a reunion tour with the legendary pop trio’s best-known member, Diana Ross.
Ross, Wilson and Florence Ballard made up the first successful configuration of the group. Cindy Birdsong replaced Ballard in 1967. With 12 No. 1 singles from 1964-70, The Supremes (later, Diana Ross & The Supremes) became the biggest female vocal group in chart history.
“People always ask if we will ever reunite,” Wilson said in an interview in a Hollywood recording studio. “But that’s very difficult, because Florence passed away (in 1976). And, unfortunately, Cindy is having a few illness problems. And I think Diane is into her own stardom. She is a diva, a superstar. Sometimes it’s hard to go back.”
But reflections were no problem for the 70-year-old Wilson, who reminisced on a major milestone — the 50th anniversary of the Supremes first No. 1, million-selling song, “Where Did Our Love Go,” released June 17, 1964.
The Associated Press: What did you think when you first heard the song?
Wilson: I don’t think we liked it at all. ... So, I remember Eddie (Holland, the song’s co-writer) saying, “Trust me. This is going to be a smash.”
AP: You were touring during that period. When did you realize The Supremes finally had a smash?
Wilson: I remember that instead of going home on the bus, we flew. That was our first plane ride. We flew home. We had really hit big.
AP: It would be the first of five consecutive No. 1s — still the most in a row for a female vocal group.
Wilson: After we did that, the music became more sophisticated. It wasn’t a bubblegum as “Where Did Our Love Go” or “Baby Love.”
AP: You ended up becoming the longest-reigning original Supreme, staying with the group until it was officially disbanded by Motown in 1977.
Wilson: I recall when we first got together, when I met Diane, Flo, Betty (McGlown) — the fourth member, when we were The Primettes — I absolutely felt complete. I absolutely never had another thought of doing anything else in my life.
AP: Still, it wasn’t always easy being a Supreme.
Wilson: It’s not easy for girls to stay together. We’re different than guys. Guys can be on a team, fighting, and then they go out and have a beer together. Girls cannot do that. We hold on to it for a long time.
AP: When last did you see Diana?
Wilson: At the Broadway musical (“Motown: The Musical,” which premiered April 2013), which was beautiful. ... Everyone was there and we all embraced: Berry (Gordy, Motown’s founder), me, Diane.
AP: Has the musical has revived interest in The Supremes?
Wilson: Just like when the movie and the Broadway play “Dreamgirls” was out. I tell everyone, “It’s not about The Supremes,” because I know, because I didn’t get paid. (Laughs.) But, still, it did bring a different demographic to that era.
AP: Girls groups have been in and out since the record business began. Right now, there aren’t so many.
Wilson: (The music business) is a male world. It’s women who listen to and love male singers. That’s why males are more constant in the arena. Whereas women, we kind of come and go.
AP: What do you think the impact of The Supremes has been on today’s female artists?
Wilson: I think that they really leaned a lot from the past. They come out as real women, saying, “This is who we are.” So, you’ve got this movement where women are in charge of their lives, in charge of everything.
AP: Do you talk to Diana?
Wilson: Yes, we do talk, but not as often as I would like to. We do. And we are. The hearts are there. We’re like sisters. I love Flo and Diane to this day, almost as much as I love my own sister.
AP: There were plans for an original Supremes reunion tour with Ross, but you didn’t sign on. How do you feel about doing it now?
Wilson: I mean, I’d be happy. The situation would have to be really where I felt wanted and paid well. So, yeah, if the opportunity came and it was all done right and correctly, yes, I’d love it. Are you kidding? It would be the culmination of that dream. That’s what people are asking. But I’m only one part. We were a trio.
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