Referred to as Motown's "soul supergroup", the Miracles recorded 26 Top 40 Pop hits, sixteen of which reached the Billboard Top 20, seven top 10 singles, and a number one single ("The Tears of a Clown") while the Robinsons and Tarplin were members. Following the departure of Tarplin and the Robinsons, the rest of the group continued with singer Billy Griffin and managed by Martin Pichinson who helped rebuild the Miracles, they scored two final top 20 singles, "Do It Baby" and "Love Machine", a second No. 1 hit, which topped the charts before the group departed for Columbia Records in 1977, recording as a quintet with Billy's brother Donald Griffin replacing Marv Tarplin, where after a few releases, they disbanded in 1978. In all, the group had over fifty charted hits by the time they disbanded. On the R&B charts, the Miracles scored 26 Top 10 Billboard R&B hits, with 4 R&B No. 1's, and 11 U.S. R&B Top 10 Albums, including 2-No.1's. Bobby Rogers and Ronald White revived the group as a touring ensemble sporadically during the 1980s and again in the 1990s with lead singer Sydney Justin. Following White's death in 1995, Rogers continued to tour with different members until he was forced into retirement due to health issues in 2011, dying less than two years later.
The Miracles have been awarded many top music industry honors over the years. In 1997, the group received the Pioneer Award at the Rhythm and Blues Foundation for their musical achievements. Four years later, in 2001, they were inducted to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. In 2004, they were ranked thirty-two on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, retaining that same position seven years later, in 2011. Four of their hit songs were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2009, the group received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Throughout their careers, the Miracles were also enshrined with honors for their songwriting by both BMI and ASCAP. In 2008, Billboard listed them at No. 61 on their 100 most successful Billboard artists ever list. After much controversy, the Miracles were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
The group that later became the Miracles was formed in 1955 by five teenage friends from Detroit, Michigan, under the name the Five Chimes. Three of the founding members, Smokey Robinson, Pete Moore and Ronald White had been singing together since they each were around the age of eleven. The group, influenced by acts such as Billy Ward and His Dominoes and Nolan Strong & the Diablos, featured Clarence Dawson and James Grice in the original lineup. All 'FIVE CHIMES'original members attended Northern High School in Detroit. After Dawson quit the group and Grice dropped out to get married, they were replaced by Emerson "Sonny" Rogers and his cousin Bobby and changed their name to the Matadors. Ironically, both Smokey Robinson and Bobby Rogers were born in the same hospital on the same month, date and year, despite not actually meeting each other until they were fifteen. In 1957, Sonny Rogers left to join the United States Army and Claudette Rogers, his sister, who had been singing with the sister group the Matadorettes, joined them shortly afterwards. Following two years of courtship, Smokey and Claudette married in November 1959.
The group auditioned for Brunswick Records in front of Alonzo Tucker (an original member of the Midnighters who had since left the group to join Jackie Wilson's management team), Nat Tarnopol (Jackie Wilson's manager) and one of the label's staff songwriters, Berry Gordy, who remained quiet during the audition. Tucker was unimpressed by the audition, stating that because there was the Platters that "there couldn't be two groups in America like that with a woman in the group." After the Tarnopol and Tucker rejection, Gordy followed them and soon agreed to work with the group after discovering Robinson's notebook full of songs he had written and having been impressed with Robinson's singing voice.
Gordy recorded their first single, "Got a Job", an answer song to the Silhouettes' "Get a Job" in January 1958. Gordy shortly thereafter struck a deal with George Goldner's End Records to distribute the single. Before the song was released, the group changed their name to the Miracles, taking it from the moniker "Miracletones", with the "'Tones" taken out. After earning only $3.19 for his production success, Gordy was told by Robinson to form his own label, which Gordy did, forming Tamla Records in 1959. One of the Miracles' first Tamla singles, the ballad "Bad Girl", became the Miracles' first song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop chart that October when it was licensed to and issued nationally by Chess Records. The next Miracles song, "It", was credited to "Ron & Bill", in a duet between White and Robinson, and was released on Tamla and nationally picked by Chess subsidiary Argo Records. Following a dismal reception at the Apollo Theater in 1959, Robinson recruited guitarist Marv Tarplin to join them on a few touring dates after Tarplin played with the Primettes (later the Supremes), with Tarplin officially joining the Miracles shortly afterwards. The addition of Tarplin was the final element in making the Miracles' "classic lineup" complete.