(Read all about the Miracles after the videos)
The Miracles (also known as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles from 1965 to 1972) were an American rhythm and blues vocal group that was the first successful recording act for Berry Gordy's Motown Records, and one of the most important and influential groups in pop, rock and roll, and R&B music history. Formed in 1955 by Smokey Robinson, Warren "Pete" Moore, and Ronnie White, the group started off as the Five Chimes, changing their name to the Matadors two years later. The group then settled on the Miracles after the inclusion of Claudette Robinson in 1958. The most notable Miracles line-up included the Robinsons, Moore, White, Bobby Rogers and Marv Tarplin. After a failed audition with Brunswick Records, the group began working with songwriter Berry Gordy, who helped to produce their first records for the End and Chess labels before establishing Tamla Records in 1959 and signing the Miracles as its first act. The group eventually scored the label's first million-selling hit record with the 1960 Grammy Hall of Fame smash, "Shop Around", and further established themselves as one of Motown's top acts with the hit singles "You've Really Got a Hold on Me", "What's So Good About Goodbye", "Way Over There", "I'll Try Something New", "Mickey's Monkey", "Going to a Go-Go", "(Come 'Round Here) I'm the One You Need", "Just A Mirage", "If You Can Want", "More Love", "I Don't Blame You at All", "Ooo Baby Baby", the multi-award-winning "The Tracks of My Tears", "Special Occasion", "I Second That Emotion", "Baby Baby Don't Cry", the number-one Pop smashes "The Tears of a Clown" and "Love Machine", "Do It Baby", and "My Girl Has Gone".
Referred to as Motown's "soul supergroup", the Miracles recorded 26 Top 40 Pop hits, sixteen of which reached the Billboard Top 20, seven top 10 singles, and a number one single ("The Tears of a Clown") while the Robinsons and Tarplin were members. Following the departure of Tarplin and the Robinsons, the rest of the group continued with singer Billy Griffin and scored two final top 20 singles, "Do It Baby" and "Love Machine", a second # 1 hit, which topped the charts before the group departed for Columbia Records in 1977, recording as a quintet with Billy's brother Donald Griffin replacing Marv Tarplin, where after a few releases, they disbanded in 1978. In all, the group had over fifty charted hits by the time they disbanded. On the R&B charts, the Miracles scored 26 Top 10 Billboard R&B hits, with 4 R&B # 1's, and 11 U.S. R&B Top 10 Albums, including 2-#1's . Bobby Rogers and Ronald White revived the group as a touring ensemble sporadically during the 1980s and again in the 1990s with lead singer Sydney Justin. Following White's death in 1995, Rogers continued to tour with different members until he was forced into retirement due to health issues in 2011, dying less than two years later.
The Miracles have been awarded many top music industry honors over the years. In 1997, the group received the Pioneer Award at the Rhythm and Blues Foundation for their musical achievements. Four years later, in 2001, they were inducted to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. In 2004, they were ranked thirty-two on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, retaining that same position seven years later, in 2011. Four of their hit songs were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2009, the group received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Throughout their careers, the Miracles were also enshrined with honors for their songwriting by both BMI and ASCAP. In 2008, Billboard listed them at #61 on their 100 most successful Billboard artists ever list. After much controversy, the Miracles were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
Initial career and success
The group that later became the Miracles was formed in 1955 by five teenage friends from Detroit, Michigan, under the name the Five Chimes. Three of the founding members, Smokey Robinson, Pete Moore and Ronald White had been singing together since they each were around the age of eleven. The group, influenced by acts such as Billy Ward and His Dominoes and Nolan Strong & the Diablos, featured Clarence Dawson and James Grice in the original lineup. All 'FIVE CHIMES'original members attended Northern High School in Detroit. After Dawson quit the group and Grice dropped out to get married, they were replaced by Emerson "Sonny" Rogers and his cousin Bobby and changed their name to the Matadors. Ironically, both Smokey Robinson and Bobby Rogers were born in the same hospital on the same month, date and year, despite not actually meeting each other until they were fifteen. In 1957, Sonny Rogers left to join the United States Army and Claudette Rogers, his sister, who had been singing with the sister group the Matadorettes, joined them shortly afterwards. Following two years of courtship, Smokey and Claudette married in November 1959.
The group auditioned for Brunswick Records in front of Alonzo Tucker (an original member of the Midnighters who had since left the group to join Jackie Wilson's management team), Nat Tarnopol (Jackie Wilson's manager) and one of the label's staff songwriters, Berry Gordy, who remained quiet during the audition. Tucker was unimpressed by the audition, stating that because there was the Platters that "there couldn't be two groups in America like that with a woman in the group." After the Tarnopol and Tucker rejection, Gordy followed them and soon agreed to work with the group after discovering Robinson's notebook full of songs he had written and having been impressed with Robinson's singing voice.
Gordy recorded their first single, "Got a Job", an answer song to the Silhouettes' "Get a Job" in January 1958. Gordy shortly thereafter struck a deal with George Goldner's End Records to distribute the single. Before the song was released, the group changed their name to the Miracles, taking it from the moniker "Miracletones", with the "'Tones" taken out. After earning only $3.19 for his production success, Gordy was told by Robinson to form his own label, which Gordy did, forming Tamla Records in 1959. One of the Miracles' first Tamla singles, the ballad "Bad Girl", became the Miracles' first song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop chart that October when it was licensed to and issued nationally by Chess Records. The next Miracles song, "It", was credited to "Ron & Bill", in a duet between White and Robinson, and was released on Tamla and nationally picked by Chess subsidiary Argo Records. Following a dismal reception at the Apollo Theater in 1959, Robinson recruited guitarist Marv Tarplin to join them on a few touring dates after Tarplin played with the Primettes (later the Supremes), with Tarplin officially joining the Miracles shortly afterwards. The addition of Tarplin was the final element in making the Miracles' "classic lineup" complete.
In 1960, the Miracles reached the charts with "Way Over There", their second national hit, which Robinson wrote and based on the Isley Brothers' "Shout". Later that year, the Miracles released "Shop Around", backed with "Who's Lovin' You", which became the group's first smash hit, reaching number one on the R&B charts, number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and number one on the Cash Box Magazine "Top 100" Pop Chart, and was the first Motown single to sell a million copies. Both sides of this record became standards for R&B and rock musicians alike for several decades afterwards.
As a result of this success, the Miracles became the first Motown act to appear on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" on December 27, 1960. The Miracles had modest success with their next few singles, including "Ain't It Baby", "Mighty Good Lovin'", "Brokenhearted" and "Everybody's Gotta Pay Some Dues", as 1961 continued. During this early period, the group suffered some problems as Robinson caught Asian Flu and had to be bedded for a month, leaving wife Claudette Robinson to lead the Miracles on tour until he recovered. Claudette herself had her share of problems, having suffered her first miscarriage that occurred after a car accident and Pete Moore was drafted to serve in the United States Army. The group's next charted successes included "What's So Good About Goodbye", and the string-laden "I'll Try Something New".
The group reached the top ten again with "You've Really Got a Hold on Me"(another Grammy Hall of Fame-inducted hit) in 1962, featuring lead vocals by Smokey Robinson and Bobby Rogers. The Miracles hit the top ten still a third time the following year with the Holland-Dozier-Holland-written-and-produced song "Mickey's Monkey". The group's exciting live performances were so well received, they were often referred to as "The Showstoppers". The Miracles' success paved the way for all future Motown stars, and, as Motown's first group, they would serve as the prototype for all other Motown groups to follow. The Miracles had become a national sensation, and their success catapulted them to the position of Motown's top-selling act, making them headliners at the nationwide Motortown Revue package touring shows, which showcased Motown artists, and that started around late 1962.
The Miracles were also the first Motown act to receive coaching and instruction from famed choreographer Cholly Atkins, who had previously worked with Little Anthony & the Imperials, the Cadillacs, and future Motown act Gladys Knight & the Pips. (Bobby Rogers, the Miracles' best dancer, did choreography for the group prior to Atkins' arrival). Through his association with the Miracles, Atkins came into Motown at their insistence, and soon became the official in-house choreographer for all of the company's acts, including the Temptations, the Marvelettes, the Four Tops, the Contours, Martha & the Vandellas, and the Supremes.
Songwriters...not just singers
In addition to penning their own material, Miracles Robinson, White, Rogers, Tarplin, and Moore wrote for many of their labelmates as well. Motown hits written, but not recorded, by members of the Miracles include songs for the Temptations ("The Way You Do The Things You Do", "My Girl", "Don't Look Back", "Since I Lost My Baby", "It's Growing", "Get Ready", "My Baby"), Mary Wells ("My Guy", "The One Who Really Loves You", "What Love Has Joined Together", "Two Lovers"), Marvin Gaye ("I'll Be Doggone", "Ain't That Peculiar", "One More Heartache"), the Marvelettes ("Don't Mess With Bill", "My Baby Must Be a Magician", "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game"), The Contours ("First I Look at the Purse), and Brenda Holloway ("When I'm Gone"). Unlike other Motown artists, whose songs were written for them by staff songwriters, the Miracles were one of the few Motown acts that composed their own songs, adding to the group's already impressive reputation.
Around 1964, Smokey Robinson became Motown's vice president, while the other members of the Miracles also began to work staff jobs with the company. Smokey and Claudette Robinson made plans to begin a family, but the rough life of touring caused Claudette to have several miscarriages. In early 1964, Claudette decided to retire from the road and remain at home in Detroit after another miscarriage, her sixth. From this point on, Claudette did not tour with the Miracles or appear in any official group photographs or on television, although she continued to sing backup with the group in the studio until 1972. 
After Claudette Robinson's departure, the remaining Miracles appeared on The T.A.M.I. Show, a landmark 1964 concert film released by American International Pictures that included performances by numerous popular rock and roll and R&B musicians from the United States and England, filmed and recorded live at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on October 28 and 29, 1964. This film had theatrical release in theatres across the United States, and also included performances by fellow Motown artists the Supremes and Marvin Gaye, along with Chuck Berry, Lesley Gore, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, and James Brown and the Famous Flames. The Miracles' performance was one of the show's highlights, called "athletically electrifying" by critics. Miracles chart hit singles that year included "That's What Love Is Made Of" and "I Like It Like That". In early 1965, the group released Motown Records' first double album, The Miracles Greatest Hits from the Beginning, which was a success on Billboard's Pop and R&B Album Charts. Also in 1965, the Miracles released their landmark Top 10 album, Going to a Go-Go, under the new group name of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. This album launched four top 20 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including the landmark million-selling Grammy Hall of Fame single, "The Tracks of My Tears", "Ooo Baby Baby", "Going to a Go-Go" and "My Girl Has Gone", all of which became top ten R&B hit singles as well. During this period, their music had made its way abroad, influencing several British groups along the way. The effects of this influence became even more pronounced when the Beatles, the Hollies, the Zombies, the Who, and the Rolling Stones all began recording covers of Miracles hits. Members of the Beatles, in particular, publicly stated that the music of the Miracles had greatly influenced their own.
Around this time, the group had begun performing in nightclubs and other high-profile venues after years on the chitlin' circuit. According to an Ebony article on the group, the group began grossing $150,000 a year due to royalties and personal investments. They also were making between $100,000 and $250,000 for nightly shows. In addition, the Miracles appeared on many of the popular variety television programs of the period, including The Ed Sullivan Show, Shindig!, Hullabaloo, American Bandstand, Where The Action Is, The Mike Douglas Show, The Andy Williams Show,Teen Town,Hollywood A Go-Go, Upbeat, and Britain's Ready Steady Go!. The Miracles' success continued with several hits including "(Come 'Round Here) I'm the One You Need", "More Love", "Special Occasion", "If You Can Want", and the Top 10 hit "I Second That Emotion". Around this time, the group was starting to be billed as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles on several of their albums. The name change did not appear on their singles until the release of "The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage", a Top 20 hit released in 1967. On that song's flipside was the tune "Come Spy with Me". The Miracles sang the original theme to the 1967 20th Century Fox film of the same name.
The year 1968 brought a second "greatest hits" collection, The Miracles Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, which was the group's second Top 10 album, which featured the most popular singles from their successful Going to a Go-Go, Away We A Go-Go and Make It Happen albums of the 1965–67 period. Also in 1968, the group released their hit album Special Occasion which spawned 3 Top 40 singles, including the smash "If You Can Want", which the group performed on their first appearance on CBS' The Ed Sullivan Show, at the time considered television's top talent and entertainment showcase.
However, due to constant changes in the music industry and Motown, by 1969, Smokey Robinson sought to leave the Miracles and the stage, to settle for continued work as Motown's vice president as well as become more of a family man to his wife Claudette and their children. The year 1969 had brought a second Ed Sullivan Show appearance for the group, singing their then-current singles "Doggone Right", and their hit cover of Dion's "Abraham, Martin and John". Robinson's departure plans however, were thwarted after the group's 1969 song "Baby Baby Don't Cry" hit the Billboard Pop Top 10, and when the Miracles' 1967 song, "Tears of a Clown", was released as a single in 1970, it became a number-one hit in the UK. It was subsequently released in the U.S., where it duplicated its U.K. success, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Chart and selling over 3 million copies. As a result, the Miracles became hotter than ever, and Robinson decided to stay with the group for another two years. In 1970, the group were given their own ABC television special, The Smokey Robinson Show, which starred the Miracles, with guest stars the Supremes, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and Fran Jeffries. In 1971, they scored one more top 20 hit with 1971's "I Don't Blame You At All". In 1972, Robinson made good on his promise to leave the Miracles, starting a six-month tour which ended in July 1972 at Washington, D.C., later introducing Billy Griffin as his official replacement. This series of final live Miracles concerts with Robinson was released by Motown on the double album Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: 1957–1972 (Tamla TS320). About that final tour, Miracle Pete Moore stated: "We had 12 farewell engagements playing to sold-out houses. It was amazing." Also released that year was the group's final studio album with Smokey, Flying High Together, with its lead single "We've Come Too Far to End It Now" reaching the Billboard R&B Top Ten. After Smokey's retirement, Billy Griffin was introduced to national television audiences on NBC's The Midnight Special, on an episode guest-starring the Miracles and hosted by Smokey Robinson, broadcast on July 13, 1973. Within a year afterwards, Marv Tarplin also decided to leave the group and continued working with Robinson on his solo material, while Claudette, who had essentially retired from the Miracles' live performances in 1964, permanently left the Miracles when her husband Smokey did, retiring from recording with them as well.
In 1973, the Miracles, with Griffin, re-emerged with the critically acclaimed album, Renaissance – their first without Smokey Robinson on lead vocals, which included the Marvin Gaye composition, "I Love You Secretly", "What Is a Heart Good For" (the intended first single), and the charting single,"Don't Let It End (Til You Let It Begin)". The following year, in 1974, after releasing the much-covered single "Give Me Just Another Day", the group had their first top 20 hit in three years with the million-selling funk song, "Do It Baby". This was followed by the top 10 R&B hit, "Don't-Cha Love It." Late that following year, the group recorded the disco smash, "Love Machine", which came off their self-written-and-produced hit album, City of Angels. "Love Machine" reached number-one on the Hot 100 in early 1976, the Miracles' first since "Tears of a Clown", and later sold over 4.5 million copies. The Miracles, who had long been written off by the music industry, had proven that they could have big hits without Robinson. Despite this success,however, in 1976, the Miracles' relationship with Motown imploded during contract renewals after their contract with the label had expired. When Motown, then going through a contract issue with Stevie Wonder, advised the group to wait "six months" to discuss a new contract, the group took on an offer to sign with Columbia Records, signing with them in 1977. Following this, Billy's brother Donald joined them on lead guitar, replacing Marv Tarplin. The group immediately had problems after signing with Columbia, starting with the release of their first Columbia single, "Spy For Brotherhood". Expecting controversy from the single as well as possible threats from the FBI, Columbia pulled the song from the airwaves. The group failed to have a hit during their short Columbia run and in 1978, Pete Moore decided to retire from the road while Billy Griffin wanted to return to his solo career, leading to the group to disband.
In 1980, Ronnie White and Bobby Rogers decided to carry on with the Miracles as a touring unit replacing Pete Moore and Billy Griffin with Dave Finley and Carl Cotton, which carried on for three years as "The New Miracles". This version of the Miracles was short-lived though after White decided to retire from show business following the death of his wife Earlyn, who died from breast cancer in 1983, disbanding the group again. Around this same time, most of the original Miracles including Smokey Robinson and Claudette Robinson as well as Pete Moore, Marv Tarplin, and Bobby Rogers reunited to perform a medley of their songs on the 1983 NBC television special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. Ron White was attending his wife Earlyn's funeral around this time, and did not participate in the reunion. Following his exit from the Miracles, Smokey Robinson enjoyed a successful solo career; in 1979, he and Tarplin co-wrote his signature hit, "Cruisin'". Following his reunion with the original Miracles on Motown 25, Robinson was dependent on cocaine, which affected his life and career. He broke the addiction in the late 1980s and revived his singing career, with the Grammy Award-winning single, "Just to See Her". In 1986, Smokey's marriage with Claudette Robinson ended in divorce, as did Bobby's marriage to Marvelettes member Wanda Young. After the release of a 35th anniversary commemorative compilation album in 1993, Ronnie White and Bobby Rogers decided to regroup the Miracles yet again, with Dave Finley returning to the fold and Sydney Justin, former NFL player and formerly of Shalamar, as the lead singer. Two years later, Ronnie White died from a longtime bout with leukemia, leaving the remaining Miracles as a trio until Tee Turner joined the group in 2001. In 1998 the group including Sydney, Bobby, Claudette and Pete performed on the PBS television network. Following White's death in 1995, Rogers continued to tour with different members. In 2005 the Miracles added a new lead singer, Mark Scott, who led the group in another PBS appearance and toured around the world. In 2009, the group received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with Bobby Rogers, Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Pete Moore, Claudette Robinson, and Billy Griffin in attendance. In 2011, Rogers was forced into retirement due to health issues, dying less than two years later. Bobby Rogers died in March 2013, 2 weeks after his 73rd birthday. Former members Carl Cotton, Marv Tarplin and Donald Griffin are also deceased (in 2003, 2011, and 2015 respectively).
Accolades, Hollywood Walk of Fame, and 2012 induction
During their tenure, the Miracles were awarded several times for their songwriting work from both the BMI and ASCAP songwriting and licensing organizations. In 1997, the Miracles were honored by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation with the Pioneer Award for their contributions to music. In 2001, the group was inducted to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Three years later, the Miracles were included in Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time at #32, still holding to that position in a revised 2011 edition, making the Miracles the highest-ranking Motown group on the Rolling Stone listing. In both editions, they were immortalized by rock musician Bob Seger, who grew up a Miracles fan. In 2006, Woodbridge Estates, an exclusive residential development in Detroit, named their community park "Miracles Park" and one of its streets "Miracles Boulevard", in recognition of the legendary Motown group's importance to the city, and as a tribute to their many accomplishments in the music industry.
In 2009, all the known members of the group (including Billy Griffin) got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, attended by Berry Gordy and Stevie Wonder, who thanked the Miracles (in particular Ronnie White, who had brought the then 11-year-old to Motown's studios), for discovering him. Wonder stated: "Were it not for the Miracles, there would not be a Stevie Wonder". Gordy added that without the Miracles, "Motown would not be the Motown that it is today." In 2011, the Miracles were inducted to the Doo-Wop Hall of Fame. That same year, Goldmine magazine named them as one of the twenty greatest doo-wop groups of all time. Finally, in 2012, 25 years after frontman Smokey Robinson's controversial solo induction, the rest of the original Miracles were inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with Robinson inducting them along with five other groups. The group's induction meant that they would be retroactively included with Robinson under the premise that they should have been inducted with him back in 1987. The inducted members were original members Claudette Rogers-Robinson, Pete Moore, Bobby Rogers, Ronnie White (posthumously), and Marv Tarplin (posthumously). On October 4, 2015 the Miracles were inducted into the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame in Detroit, MI.