In 1957, The Matadors failed their audition with Jackie Wilson’s manager. But the chance meeting with Berry Gordy, an up and coming songwriter for Jackie Wilson, turned out to be a life-altering event. Gordy saw something special in the group of eager teens, especially their leader and songwriter, young Smokey Robinson. The Miracles went on to be a part of the company’s earliest successes.
Pete Moore, Bobby Rogers, Claudette (Rogers) Robinson and Ronnie White, along with William “Smokey” Robinson, were the original members of the group. (Claudette stopped touring with the group in 1964 but continued to sing on recording sessions.) Guitarist Marvin Tarplin, who accompanied the group from 1958 on, was sometimes described as the sixth Miracle.
The Miracles enjoyed local success through the late 1950s, with songs like “Way Over There” and “Bad Girl,” each of which also charted in the low-90s on Billboard magazine’s national Hot 100 chart. But the door to success swung open when “Shop Around,” The Miracles’ first single to sell more than a million records, was released in 1961. Hit followed hit, with 1962’s “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” which also made it into the Top 10. Over the next three years, The Miracles recorded and released many popular songs, “What’s So Good About Goodbye,” “I’ll Try Something New,” “Mickey’s Monkey,” “Going To A Go-Go” and “The Tracks of My Tears.” In 1965, The Miracles recorded “Ooh Baby Baby,” their trademark song.
Over the years, The Miracles reached the charts with 50 records, reaching the Top 10 on Billboard’s R&B lists, with 26 songs, four of which made it to #1. Showing their crossover appeal, 16 of the group’s records made it to Billboard’s Hot 100 and two, “Tears of a Clown” and “Love Machine (Part 1),” reached #1 in 1970 and 1975, respectively.
A few of the Miracles, including Marv Tarplin, wrote and produced songs for other Motown singers and groups. Perhaps the most well-known collaboration involving Miracles writing for other Motown acts was between Ronnie White and Smokey Robinson and a tune they co-wrote for the Temptations: “My Girl.”
Smokey went solo in 1971 and was replaced with singer Billy Griffin. The Griffin-led Miracles released more hit singles like “Do It Baby” and the #1 hit “Love Machine.” An iconic singing group, the Miracles received many honors, including induction into the Grammy and Doo Wop Halls of Fame.
All Members of the Miracles
- William “Smokey” Robinson
- Warren “Pete” Moore
- Ronald “Ronnie” White
- Robert “Bobby” Rogers
- Claudette Rogers Robinson
- William “Billy” Griffin
- Marvin “Marv” Tarplin, guitarist and songwriter
The Miracles celebrated Smokey’s 18th birthday on February 19, 1958, with the release of their first Motown single, “Got a Job,” the so-called answer to the Silhouettes’ “Get a Job.”