Bobby Rogers, an original member of the Motown group the Miracles, who collaborated with lead vocalist and songwriter Smokey Robinson and kept the musical franchise going after its biggest name left, died Sunday at his suburban Detroit home. He was 73.
His death was confirmed by Motown Museum board member Allen Rawls. The cause of death was not disclosed, but Rogers had been in poor health for several years.
The group known for such hits as “Shop Around,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” and “The Tracks of My Tears” was formed in 1956 by Rogers, Robinson, Claudette Rogers, Pete Moore and Ronnie White.
Rogers shared songwriting credits with Robinson on the Temptations’ “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” the Contours’ “First I Look at the Purse” and the Miracles’ “Going to a Go-Go.”
“Another soldier in my life has fallen. Bobby Rogers was my brother and a really good friend,” Robinson said in a statement. Sunday. “I am really going to miss him. I loved him very much.”
Rogers had something in common with Robinson long before the two ever met. They were born the same day — Feb. 19, 1940 — in the same Detroit hospital.
At 15, Rogers joined Robinson’s group the Matadors. When it signed with Berry Gordy’s new Motown label in 1959, it they changed the name to the Miracles and began turning out hits.
Rogers stayed with the group when Robinson left in the early 1970s to develop a solo career and helped line up William “Bill” Griffin to replace him. The group had a few more hits, including “Do It Baby” and “Love Machine,” before disbanding in the late 1970s. Rogers revived the group with new members in the 1980s and ‘90s. He was touring with the group in recent years.
His voice can be heard on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” with Rogers saying, “It’s just a groovy party, man, I can dig it.” Mary Wilson of the Supremes said that captured his essence.
“If people want to remember him, they should put that record on and listen to Bobby,” Wilson told the Detroit Free Press. “That’s who he was.”
Rogers and the Miracles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. He was too ill to attend the ceremony.