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 The Miracles: In the '60s, we loved and lost to this Motown legend's smooth songs (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2012)

Published: Tuesday, April 03, 2012, 6:00 AM     Updated: Tuesday, April 03, 2012, 6:29 AM
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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2012

Name: The Miracles.

Hometown: Detroit.

Formed: 1954.

Members being inducted: Warren "Pete" Moore, Claudette Rogers Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Marvin Tarplin* and Ronald White*.

* inducted posthumously.

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Like the jilted lovers of their songs ready for a reconciliation, the Miracles happily come to Cleveland next week to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Righting an old wrong, the Rock Hall will enshrine the other members of the group alongside lead singer Smokey Robinson, who was inducted in 1987.

The three surviving members -- Warren "Pete" Moore, Claudette Rogers Robinson and Bobby Rogers will be inducted at the ceremony. Marvin Tarplin and Ronald White will be inducted posthumously.

Smokey Robinson will do the induction honors.

Even though Robinson was the face and voice of the group, the Miracles sound was a group effort, which is what made the exclusion in 1987 more painful.

"It was a slap in the face, very disappointing," said Moore, who co-wrote many of the Miracles hits. "We are the premiere group of Motown. We were there before there was a Motown. We set the pace for all the other artists to come after us. We were a little older, and the other artists looked up to us. How could we not be in there?"

Moore said the 2012 correction is welcome, if late.

"When Terry Stewart [Rock Hall president and CEO] called and told me we were to be inducted, he was apologetic," Moore said. "He said it should have been done years ago, everybody knew it. He said they received many, many calls over the years from angry fans."

Moore looks forward to the induction and the weekend of celebration

"It's long overdue," said Moore, 72, owner and CEO of the Las Vegas-based entertainment firm WBMM Enterprises.

Moore was a founding member of the Miracles along with Robinson, his childhood chum.

But more important than that, he co-wrote "Ooo Baby Baby" in 1965.

Flash back to junior high school dances held in church basements or fire halls in the 1960s, where girls waited for boys to ask them to dance. And boys waited for THE song they knew could melt any heart.

Never mind that the song is about a cheating man begging his woman for a second chance, it's the part where he expresses his undying love so beautifully that makes it one of the greatest love songs ever written.

Robinson's pleading voice and the smooth Miracles background vocals are so perfect, it's hard to tell where they end and the string section begins. The driving bass and drum make it a classic love song.

And it's less than three minutes long.

Moore laughed.

"Oh, man, that song," he said. "That's our national anthem. We had to play that every time we performed. Everybody loves it. That song is responsible for a lot of babies."

He said the song came about in a strange way.

"We were singing in Charleston, South Carolina, in a hall. And after our finale, we were still singing -- and Smokey started singing just the ooooos and 'baby, baby,' " Moore said. "We fell in with him with harmony, and the crowd went crazy. We went back to the room and said we got to write a song to go with that."

He said the words and music just came together, and they knew they had written their signature song.

Moore also co-wrote "Tracks of My Tears" and "Going to a Go-Go" among other songs for the Miracles, and "Since I Lost My Baby" and "It's Growing" for their Motown buddies theTemptations. That's his name under the credits for "Ain't That Peculiar " and "I'll Be Doggone" for another Motown marvel, Marvin Gaye.

Moore said he and Robinson started out in 1954 with a band called the Five Chimes, singing cover versions of songs by the Spaniels and the Moonglows.

"It was an amazing time," he said. "We were just kids, and there was music everywhere in Detroit. In 1957, we were calling ourselves the Matadors, and we auditioned for some industry people. They didn't like us, said we were too much like the Platters, but there was another guy in the room who caught up to us and said he liked us a lot. His name was Berry Gordy."

With Gordy as manager, the Miracles released a single in 1958 called "Got a Job," an "answer song" to the Silhouettes' "Get a Job."

Moore said even though it didn't make the group any money, the song was enough of a hit to jump-start its career. After a few more minor successes, the Miracles started a long series of hits in 1960 with the classic "Shop Around."

After that, hit followed hit. "You Really Got a Hold on Me," "What's So Good About Goodbye?" and "I'll Try Something New" came out in 1962, followed by "Mickey's Monkey" in 1963.

In 1964, the Miracles had everyone doing "The Jerk," and in 1965 they were "Going to a Go-Go." In 1965, the group capped its reputation with the two songs that would forever be its greatest hits, "Ooo Baby Baby" and the mournful "Tracks of My Tears."

The Miracles' lives were a whirlwind of music, money and success. But in 1972, Robinson stepped down to spend more time with his wife, a woman he married after divorcing band member Claudette Rogers Robinson. He was also busy as vice president of Motown Records.

"We had 12 farewell engagements playing to sold-out houses. It was amazing," said Moore. "Billy Griffin then replaced Smokey, and under him we had our biggest-selling song ever, 'Love Machine' in 1976. That sold 4.5 million copies."

Moore left the band in 1986.

"I got tired of all the traveling," he said. "My wife said I was getting older and that I should take it easy. I didn't need the money. I had my own publishing company. I thought it was time."

The band stayed together as founding member Bobby Rogers brought in new people.

"They were singing until last year, when Bobby retired with health problems," Moore said.

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