TOM LEONARD examines how Tom Joness wife threatened to castrate him over Mary Wilson affair – Daily Mail

Mary Wilson didn’t quite know what to expect when Princess Margaret stopped to talk to her in the after-show line-up at the 1968 Royal Variety Performance.

The Supremes had been the headline act, three girls who had grown up in poverty and deprivation in Detroit but who had come to define shimmering pop glamour with eternal hits such as You Can’t Hurry Love, Baby Love and Stop! In the Name of Love.

And perhaps that glamour irked HRH that night.

‘She said to me: ‘Oh Mary, is that a wig you’re wearing?’ Wilson recalled. ‘And she didn’t say it quietly. I remember standing there like I could kill her. But at that moment I just realised people are people. After that, she and I became best friends.’

They had something in common, after all, as the over-shadowed members of a famous sister act. For Wilson, it was a fraught relationship with fellow Supreme, Diana Ross.

The Supremes had been the headline act, three girls who had grown up in poverty and deprivation in Detroit but who had come to define shimmering pop glamour with eternal hits such as You Can't Hurry Love, Baby Love and Stop! In the Name of Love. Pictured: Florence Ballard (left), Mary Wilson (centre), Diana Ross (right)

The Supremes had been the headline act, three girls who had grown up in poverty and deprivation in Detroit but who had come to define shimmering pop glamour with eternal hits such as You Can't Hurry Love, Baby Love and Stop! In the Name of Love. Pictured: Florence Ballard (left), Mary Wilson (centre), Diana Ross (right)

The Supremes had been the headline act, three girls who had grown up in poverty and deprivation in Detroit but who had come to define shimmering pop glamour with eternal hits such as You Can’t Hurry Love, Baby Love and Stop! In the Name of Love. Pictured: Florence Ballard (left), Mary Wilson (centre), Diana Ross (right)

Mary Wilson's own love life was explosive, too. She had affairs with Steve McQueen, Sir David Frost, film producer David (now Lord) Puttnam and Tom Jones ¿ whose wife threatened to castrate him if he continued cheating on her with the singer. Pictured: Mary Wilson with Tom Jones at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas 1971

Mary Wilson's own love life was explosive, too. She had affairs with Steve McQueen, Sir David Frost, film producer David (now Lord) Puttnam and Tom Jones ¿ whose wife threatened to castrate him if he continued cheating on her with the singer. Pictured: Mary Wilson with Tom Jones at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas 1971

Mary Wilson’s own love life was explosive, too. She had affairs with Steve McQueen, Sir David Frost, film producer David (now Lord) Puttnam and Tom Jones — whose wife threatened to castrate him if he continued cheating on her with the singer. Pictured: Mary Wilson with Tom Jones at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas 1971

A hugely talented singer and co-founder of the group, Wilson — who has died at her Las Vegas home aged 76 — had to take a backing role to a rival whose career soared after she had an affair with their Svengali-like producer, Berry Gordy.

Wilson later painted Ross as a scene-stealing, back-stabbing diva who shamelessly exploited her relationship with Gordy and who, on stage, would allegedly barge Wilson out of the way.

Mary Wilson’s own love life was explosive, too. She had affairs with Steve McQueen, Sir David Frost, film producer David (now Lord) Puttnam and Tom Jones — whose wife threatened to castrate him if he continued cheating on her with the singer.

In one of the less entrancing episodes in her life, Wilson had to be bundled out of Jones’s Bournemouth flat before his wife, Linda, got there to ‘sort him out’.

The pair had started their affair during Jones’s 1968 tour of the U.S. and Linda’s suspicions were aroused when she learned that Mary had flown to the UK while Jones was performing at Bournemouth’s Winter Gardens.

The pair had started their affair during Jones's 1968 tour of the U.S. and Linda's suspicions were aroused when she learned that Mary had flown to the UK while Jones was performing at Bournemouth's Winter Gardens. Pictured: Mary and Tom in 1971 in Las Vegas

The pair had started their affair during Jones's 1968 tour of the U.S. and Linda's suspicions were aroused when she learned that Mary had flown to the UK while Jones was performing at Bournemouth's Winter Gardens. Pictured: Mary and Tom in 1971 in Las Vegas

The pair had started their affair during Jones’s 1968 tour of the U.S. and Linda’s suspicions were aroused when she learned that Mary had flown to the UK while Jones was performing at Bournemouth’s Winter Gardens. Pictured: Mary and Tom in 1971 in Las Vegas

Jones and his assistant, Chris Ellis, managed to get Wilson out of the flat and remove any trace of her — but forgot to check the oven. Mary was a great cook and had prepared a romantic meal for herself and Tom.

‘Oh yeah, and who cooked this?’ said his livid wife triumphantly when she discovered it.

Linda told him: ‘You’d better straighten it out, because you won’t be able to do anything without your b***s.’

Wilson’s cause of death last night remained something of a mystery. Her publicist would only say she died suddenly (according to some reports it was in her sleep). And, indeed, just two days before her death on Monday, Wilson had posted a new video on her YouTube channel to announce she was working with a record company on solo material including an album.

Whatever Diana Ross’s feelings about her former colleague, there was no hint of animosity yesterday: ‘I just woke up to this news, my condolences to Mary’s family,’ she said yesterday. ‘I have so many wonderful memories of our time together. The Supremes will live on in our hearts.’

The way they were: The Supremes singer Mary Wilson (center) with Diana Ross (far right) and Florence Ballard (left)

The way they were: The Supremes singer Mary Wilson (center) with Diana Ross (far right) and Florence Ballard (left)

The way they were: The Supremes singer Mary Wilson (center) with Diana Ross (far right) and Florence Ballard (left)

Wilson's cause of death last night remained something of a mystery. Her publicist would only say she died suddenly (according to some reports it was in her sleep)

Wilson's cause of death last night remained something of a mystery. Her publicist would only say she died suddenly (according to some reports it was in her sleep)

Wilson’s cause of death last night remained something of a mystery. Her publicist would only say she died suddenly (according to some reports it was in her sleep)

Berry Gordy, 91, said he was ‘extremely shocked and saddened to hear the passing of a major member of the Motown family’, adding: ‘The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown’.’

Wilson was ‘a trailblazer, a diva and will be deeply missed,’ he added. He also described her as ‘quite a star in her own right’ — which would surely have stung.

As a school girl, her vocal talents were judged so remarkable that she was assigned her own singing coach and yet, as she once sarcastically told an interviewer, she was the one who just sang the ‘Ooohs’ in The Supremes’ songs.

‘She was very talented and I suspect she never liked the fact she was a backing vocalist,’ said Motown chronicler Stuart Cosgrove yesterday. ‘She could have been a top soloist.’

Wilson was 15 when she co-founded The Supremes — initially called The Primettes — and was the only member to stay in it until the act disbanded in 1977. With a dozen No. 1s, The Supremes remain the most successful U.S. vocal group ever.

Despite achieving a level of stardom that would have seemed unimaginable for a black girl from the Projects — Detroit’s bleak public housing — her life was marred by adversity and tragedy.

Born in Mississippi, aged three she was sent to live with her maternal aunt and uncle who brought her up as their own child. Three years later she discovered the truth when her real mother came to live in Detroit and had to fight in the courts to get Mary back.

Wilson was 15 when she co-founded The Supremes ¿ initially called The Primettes ¿ and was the only member to stay in it until the act disbanded in 1977. With a dozen No. 1s, The Supremes remain the most successful U.S. vocal group ever (pictured in November 2019)

Wilson was 15 when she co-founded The Supremes ¿ initially called The Primettes ¿ and was the only member to stay in it until the act disbanded in 1977. With a dozen No. 1s, The Supremes remain the most successful U.S. vocal group ever (pictured in November 2019)

Wilson was 15 when she co-founded The Supremes — initially called The Primettes — and was the only member to stay in it until the act disbanded in 1977. With a dozen No. 1s, The Supremes remain the most successful U.S. vocal group ever (pictured in November 2019)

She and school friend Florence Ballard were soon joined in their singing group by Ross. They signed to Detroit-based Motown in 1961.

In their figure-hugging gowns, shiny wigs and mile-long eyelashes, The Supremes were the glossy pin-ups of the Motown invasion, their stage look inspiring generations of other women singers.

By the mid-1960s their chart success in the U.S. rivalled that of The Beatles. However, Ballard found fame hard to cope with. Beset by drink, drugs and depression, she was ousted from the trio in 1967 and replaced by Cindy Birdsong.

In the same year, Gordy — by then in a relationship with Ross and planning a Hollywood and Vegas career for her — renamed the trio Diana Ross & The Supremes in a clear snub to Wilson.

Ross left the group in 1970 to pursue a solo career and it was only after Wilson took over The Supremes’ accounts that she realised quite how badly they’d fared by leaving their career entirely in the hands of Motown. Despite a plethora of chart-topping hits, she’d earned just $100,000.

In her 1986 best-selling memoir, Dreamgirl: My Life As A Supreme, Wilson let rip at Ross, claiming while they were recording a 1983 TV spectacular celebrating Motown’s 25th anniversary, Ross had shoved her aside. (The footage, she said, was edited out.)

In 1974, Wilson (second right) married Pedro Ferrer (second left), The Supremes' road manager, whom she alleged had a terrible temper and would beat her up, once severing part of her ear after smashing a glass against her face. The couple pictured with Ferrer and Wilson's mothers in 1974

In 1974, Wilson (second right) married Pedro Ferrer (second left), The Supremes' road manager, whom she alleged had a terrible temper and would beat her up, once severing part of her ear after smashing a glass against her face. The couple pictured with Ferrer and Wilson's mothers in 1974

In 1974, Wilson (second right) married Pedro Ferrer (second left), The Supremes’ road manager, whom she alleged had a terrible temper and would beat her up, once severing part of her ear after smashing a glass against her face. The couple pictured with Ferrer and Wilson’s mothers in 1974

But she admitted she was conflicted about their relationship: ‘She has done many things to hurt, humiliate and upset me, but, strangely enough, I still love her and am proud of her,’ she wrote.

‘She was the one who left me, I didn’t leave her,’ Wilson complained. ‘I never understood it.’

Of all her many love affairs, Tom Jones was ‘the one’ she would later claim, their intense affair reportedly lasting several years during which they would fly across the world just to be with each other.

‘He had other girls — I was just one of them — but I loved him. He broke my heart, we had to quit. He was married and it couldn’t go on.’

In 1974, she married Pedro Ferrer, The Supremes’ road manager, whom she alleged had a terrible temper and would beat her up, once severing part of her ear after smashing a glass against her face.

They had three children — two sons and a daughter — but she divorced him in 1981 after she said he pulled a gun on her. Ferrer has never commented on these unproven allegations.

In 1994, their 14-year-old son Rafael died after Wilson’s Jeep turned over in a crash on the highway between LA and Las Vegas. She sustained moderate injuries.

In later life, Wilson often fretted that The Supremes might reform without her. They never did, perhaps because without Wilson, they wouldn’t have been The Supremes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *