Skip to main content

Passings: Bobby Rogers of the Miracles (1940 - 2013)

The Miracles (Rogers upper left)
Bobby Rogers, a member of the Miracles for 55 years, died Sunday morning at his home in Southfield, MI after a number of years of ill health. He was 73.

The Miracles have been recognized as one of the most important backing groups in rock history, having been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, the first time the Hall had honored such groups separate from their lead artists.

Rogers was born on February 19, 1940, on the same day and in the same hospital as his future singing partner Smokey Robinson. While not in the original version of the Miracles that formed in 1955 (then known as the Five Chimes), he joined a year later when another member dropped out.

The group auditioned for Brunswick Records, including label songwriter Barry Gordy, but were rejected. Gordy soon followed up with them and, in 1958, recorded their first single, Got a Job. The record, released on End, didn't chart but, at Robinson's urging, Gordy decided to start his own label, Tamla Records.

The Miracles first few singles for Tamla were licensed out to other labels and failed to score. It was in 1960 when the group released Shop Around/Who's Lovin' You, that their career took off. The song topped the R&B singles chart for eight weeks and made it to number 2 on the Hot 100.

Two years later, they scored again with You've Really Got a Hold on Me (1962/#1 R&B/#8 Pop) that started a long string of hits that would span into the early-70's, including Mickey's Monkey, Ooo Baby Baby, The Tracks of My Tears, Going to a Go-Go, I Second That Emotion, Baby Baby Don't Cry and their only number 1 pop hit, Tears of a Clown. At the same time, each of the members of the Miracles were also writing songs that were recorded by other members of the Motown roster, including The Way You Do the Things You Do which Rogers and Robinson wrote and was a the first hit for the Temptations.

In 1972, Smokey Robinson left the group and was replaced by Billy Griffin as the lead singer. For many groups, the loss of their most visible member would mean the end but not the Miracles, who struck out with their new line-up and recasting their sound to the 70's. In 1974, they hit the R&B top ten with Do It Baby (#4 R&B/#13 Pop) and, a year later, topped the pop charts with Love Machine (Part 1) (1975/#1 Pop/ #5 R&B).

Even after their hitmaking days, the Miracles continued to tour and occasionally record with Rogers and Ronnie White as the consistent members. The original lineup reconvened for the Motown 25 television special and, in 1993, a 35th anniversary compilation album once again reignited interest in the group.

Bobby Rogers stayed with the group, through every lineup, from 1956 through 2011 when he was forced to leave over poor health and the Miracles disbanded for good. His final honor came with the Rock Hall induction in 2012 with fellow members Claudette Rogers-Robinson (Bobby's cousin and Smokey's former wife), Pete Moore, Ronnie White and Marv Tarplin, the last two inducted posthumously).

Rogers was married twice, in 1963 to Wanda Young of the Marvelettes, with which he had a number of children, and in 1981 to Joan Hughes with which he had four additional children.


Anonymous said…
TO The Rogers Family: Please accept my sympathy in the loss of your dear love one Bobby. I can remember when he came to Inkster Michigan with Wanda Young Rogers and how the people of Inkster just loved Bobby and Wanda. May GOD give you peace during your time of sorrow.