It's no "miracle" that The Miracles are still putting on as sizzling of a show now as they did when thay launched their career in the late 1950's. The difference now is that they have almost 40 years of impecable experience, dozens of huge hits and the instiable desire to perfom for their loyal fans. Their contagious enthusiasm is obvious when thay hit the stage with their trademark Motown dance routines and begin to belt out a battery of million sellers such as "Shop Around", "Going To A Go-Go", "Tears Of A Clown", "Love Machine" and "The Tracks Of My Tears". Their unmistakable music defined the sixties generation and continues to attract new fans as their music plays in many current movie soundtracks and on the radio.
The Miracle's audience ranges from nine to ninety and the univcersal theme of their music touches people of all races and cultures. They've been around, but they're not just another "oldies but goodies" act, as proven by the 40,000 people who cheered their recent performance (1996, July 4th celebration) at Duke University football stadium in North Carolina. It's no miracle, it's meticulous work and some of the most recognized songs ever recorded that keeps the group fresh, current and in demand.
In 1956, Bobby Rogers and his cousin Claudette Rogers, joined a singing group called the Matadores. The group also included Smokey Robinson, Ronnie White and Pete Moore. With Claudette in the group, the name Matadores sounded too masculine, so they changed their name to the Miracles and pitched themselves to Jackie Wilson's manager who turned them down.
Berry Gordy was in the back of the room and saw something special in the group and asked them to sing for him. They impressed Gordy and he made arrangements for them to record "Got A Job" for End Records in N.Y. While not a big hit, it lead to the group releasing "Bad Girl" on Gordy's new Motown label, locally in Detroit and nationally on Chicago based Chess Records. Then Smokey and Berry wrote "Shop Around" and put it on Berry's Tamla label. The song skyrocketed to #1 on the R & B charts and #3 on the pop charts giving Motown and The Miracles their first million seller. The Miracles never looked back.
Over the course of the 60's The Miracles compiled an enviable list of chart busting million sellers, including: "Ooh Baby Baby", "I Second That Emotion", "More Love", "Mickey's Monkey" and "The Tears Of A Clown". In 1971 Smokey Robinson announced his retirement. He wanted to spend more time with his family and on record production. Billy Griffin replaced him and the group continued to be successful with a healthy recording schedule. Such renowned producers such as Marvin Gaye, Willy Hutch and Freddie Perren produced the group during this period. In the fall of 1974 they went for the gold again with "Do It Baby" which hit #13 on the pop charts and "Love Machine" which hit #1 on the pop and R & B charts in early 1976.
On the heels of this success, The Miracles left Motown. "At the time we had just come off the City Of Angels album which 'Love Machine' was on, and even though we had a #1 hit, we couldn't get a contract with Motown." Rogers explains. "They (Motown) wanted us and a lot of other artists to wait about a year until they resigned Stevie Wonder. Well, CBS was knocking at the door so we decided to go with them. I guess in reality The Miracles will always be considered a Motown group though. In 1978 Bill and Pete stopped singing. They wanted to concentrate on writing so we got a new member. In fact, Dave Finley who joined us in '78, is still with us. We toured for a while but basically put ourselves on hold only recording for special projects and making only special appearances, mainly for charity."
The Miracles music gained in popularity through movie soundtracks and endless compilations. In 1993, Motown honored the group with a 35th Anniversary retrospective and the group reunited in the studio for a series of Christmas recordings for Laserlight Records. At that time Bobby and Ronnie started talking about a reunion. Rogers remembers, "He asked me if I was still gonna go out with the group and play? I told him I would. Then about three years ago I met Sidney Justin, the great lead singer of Shalamar ("Make That Move", "Dead Give Away" and "Dancing In The Streets"). I called him up and asked him if he wanted to do this and he said yeah! After that we appeared on the George & Alana TV show, which was very well received and we've been busy ever since. Unfortunately, Ronnie White lost a 14 month battle with luekemia in '95 and didn't live to see the group reformed, and that's why we have three singers up front not four., it's out of respect to our lost friend."
"We're trying to feel our way around and not go through the same things we did when we were younger." Rogers adds. "Things like the Chitlin' Curcuit or the Oldies But Goodies Curcuit. We're trying not to do that. It's great once and a while but we don't want to get locked into it because we've got a lot of new stuff to share."