The Miracles were an American soul group from Detroit, formed in 1955. The band released a round of singles on End and Chess during the late 1950s, followed by a high-volume run of albums on Tamla between 1961 and 1976. Between 1965 and 1972, the nameplate was affixed with that of featured vocalist/songwriter Smokey Robinson.
Members: Ronald White (vocals, 1955-78, 1980-83, 1993-95), Warren Moore (vocals, 1955-78), Smokey Robinson (vocals, 1955-72), Clarence Dawson (vocals, 1955), James Grice (vocals, 1955), Robert Rogers (vocals, 1956-78, 1980-83, 1993-2011), Emerson “Sonny” Rogers (vocals, 1956), Claudette Robinson (vocals, 1956-64), Marvin Tarplin (guitar, vocals, 1959-74), Billy Griffin (vocals, 1972-78), Donald Griffin (guitar, vocals, 1977-78)
The Miracles originated in the Five Chimes, a doo-wop quintet formed in 1955 Detroit by teenagers William “Smokey” Robinson (b. Feb. 19, 1940), Warren “Pete” Moore (1938–2017), and Ronnie White (1939–1995), classmates from Northern High School who’d sung together since their tweens.
Fellow founders Clarence Dawson and James Grice soon cleared way for cousins Sonny and Bobby Rogers (1940–2013), whose arrival prompted a name-change to The Matadors. Despite meeting for the first time at age fifteen, Smokey and Bobby were born on the same date at the same hospital. When Sonny joined the Army in 1957, the group hired his younger sister Claudette Rogers (b. 1942), who sang in a female counterpart combo called The Matadorettes. Smokey and Claudette became a couple.
In late 1957, The Matadors auditioned for Brunswick Records in front of label staff writer Berry Gordy and members of Jackie Wilson’s management team. Gordy, impressed with Robinson’s voice and his notebook of songs, took the group under his wing. He wrote and produced their first a-side, “Got a Job” (a response to The Silhouettes “Get a Job”). Just prior to the single’s March 1958 release on soul-press End, the group changed its name to The Miracles.
Their second End single, “Money” (b/w “I Cry”), appeared that August. Both songs, like the subsequent six singles, are Gordy-Robinson co-writes. Dismayed by the small returns, Gordy took Robinson’s advice and started his own label, Tamla, established in 1959. One of its earliest singles was the Miracles’ third release, “The Feeling Is So Fine” (b/w “You Can Depend On Me“).
That summer, The Miracles first cracked the charts (#93) with their fourth single, “Bad Girl” (b/w “I Love Your Baby”), distributed nationally by Chess, which also issued their 1960 single “I Need a Change” (b/w “All I Want (Is You)”). Between those two, Robinson and White cut the single “It” (b/w “Don’t Say Bye-Bye”), issued on Tamla under the name Ron & Bill.
In 1960, Robinson auditioned an aspiring female vocal combo, The Primettes. In exchange for introducing them to the now-powerful Gordy, they handed their guitarist, Marv Tarplin, over to Smokey’s group, thus finalizing the classic Miracles lineup. (The Primettes later morphed into Motown stars The Supremes.)
The Miracles cracked Billboard a second time (#94) with their spring 1960 single, “Way Over There” (b/w “(You Can) Depend on Me”). That fall, they hit the big time with their next single, “Shop Around” (b/w “Who’s Lovin’ You”). With its darting vocal melody, abrupt chorus, sublime saxophone solo, and remote instrumental backing, “Shop Around” rocketed to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and Cashbox Top 100.
(More to come…)
- Hi! We’re The Miracles (1961)
- Cookin’ With The Miracles (1961)
- I’ll Try Something New (1962)
- The Fabulous Miracles (1963)
- Christmas With The Miracles (1963)
- The Miracles Doin’ Mickey’s Monkey (1963)
- I Like It Like That (1965)
- Going to a Go-Go (1965 • Smokey Robinson and The Miracles)
- Away We a Go-Go (1966 • Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
- Make It Happen (1967 • Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
- Special Occasion (1968 • Smokey Robinson and The Miracles)
- Time Out for Smokey Robinson and The Miracles (1969 • Smokey Robinson and The Miracles)
- Four in Blue (1969 • Smokey Robinson and The Miracles)
- What Love Has Joined Together (1970 • Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
- A Pocket Full of Miracles (1970 • Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
- The Season for Miracles (1970 • Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
- One Dozen Roses (1971 • Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
- Flying High Together (1972 • Smokey Robinson and The Miracles)
- Renaissance (1973)
- Do It Baby (1974)
- Don’t Cha Love It (1975)
- City of Angels (1975)
- The Power of Music (1976)
- Love Crazy (1977)
- The Miracles (1978)
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