Smokey Robinson Biography
The Miracles began as the Five Chimes in the middle of the 1950s while the members were still in high school, scoring over 40 songs on the R&B Top 40 charts. The members of the Detroit singing group were James “Rat” Grice, Clarence “Humble” Dawson, Warren “Pete” Moore, William “Smokey” Robinson, and Donald Wicker. Soon after the group’s formation, Wicker and Grice left and were replaced by their cousins Emerson “Sonny” and Bobby Rogers, who both sang tenor, and by baritone Ronnie White, who replaced Dawson. Claudette Rogers joined the band in 1956 after her brother Sonny Rogers was conscripted, and the singing quintet later changed their name to the Matadors. 1956 saw The Matadors perform for Nat Tarnapol, the manager of Jackie Wilson. Berry Gordy Jr., who wrote the song for Jackie Wilson, was fascinated despite Tarnapol’s lack of enthusiasm since he thought the band was too similar to the Platters. He quickly started producing the group, which was then known as the Miracles. Their debut record, “Get a Job,” was created by Gordy and released in 1958 by the End Records label in New York.
1959’s “Bad Girl,” the Miracles’ debut single for Gordy’s new Motown/Tamla label, was recorded after one more release on this label (which was issued nationally on the Chess label). The group’s 1960 single “Shop Around,” which peaked at number one on the R&B charts and number two on the pop charts, becoming the label’s first success. Two years later, the Miracles’ “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” became their second single to peak at number one R&B and make the pop Top Ten. In 1964, Claudette left the band after getting married to Smokey in 1963. Going to a Go-Go (1966), which reached the Top Five on the R&B charts and the pop Top 20, was the band’s last significant hit before changing their name from the Miracles. In the course of that year, “I’m the One You Need” made it into the Top 20. In the years that followed, the group’s name was changed to Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, and they achieved two more number one singles with “I Second That Emotion” (1967) and “The Tears of a Clown” (1970).
In 1972, Smokey quit the band to pursue a solo career, and 20-year-old Billy Griffin was brought in to fill the void. Once more the Miracles, the group racked up a number of songs, including “Do It Baby” and “Don’t Cha Love It,” both of which made it to the R&B Top Ten. With “Love Machine (Part 1),” which peaked at number one on the pop charts in the beginning of 1976, The Miracles enjoyed tremendous success. The band’s longest-running hit ever, the multi-million selling single was released in 1975 from City of Angels, their second album without Smokey. It spent more than six months on the charts. The Power of Music, their last album for the Motown label, was released after that. Following this, Don Griffin, the brother of Billy Griffin, joined the Miracles, and the group changed labels to Columbia. Their debut CBS release was Love Crazy (1977), which featured the track “Spy for the Brotherhood,” which was taken off the shelves in response to FBI complaints. The group’s final single to reach the charts, “Mean Machine,” reached the R&B Top 100 in 1978. Warren “Pete” Moore started making records in Detroit, and Billy Griffin began a solo career. Bobby Rogers founded the New Miracles in the late 1980s, and in 1990, the Miracles—which also included Billy Griffin and Claudette Robinson—got back together to re-record “Love Machine” for the U.K. Motorcity label. Ronnie White passed away in 1995 from leukemia, and Griffin passed away in 2013 from complications related to his diabetes.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why Did Smokey Robinson Leave The Miracles?
The official reason given by Smokey Robinson for leaving the Miracles was to focus on his solo career. However, many fans and music critics believe that the true reason was due to personal and creative differences between Robinson and fellow Miracles member Bobby Rogers. These tensions had been brewing for some time and eventually came to a head in 1972, when Robinson announced his departure from the group.
Who Replaced Smokey Robinson When He Left The Miracles?
In 1972, after Smokey Robinson left the Miracles, he was replaced by Billy Griffin. Griffin had originally joined the group as an occasional replacement for Robinson during his absences from the group.
Why Did Smokey Robinson Leave The Miracles?
Smokey Robinson left the Miracles in 1972 due to creative differences. He wanted to pursue a solo career, and felt that he was being held back by the group. The other members of the Miracles were not ready to break up, and so Robinson left to pursue his own vision.