He was a singer-songwriter born Ronald White in
While young he and his school friend Smokey Robinson
began singing together from the time they were in fifth grade and while
still in high school in 1955 they began The Five Chimes with three
others. Six months later they
became The Matadors with a changed line-up and after they began recording
they changed their name once again to The Miracles.
They were signed up to the Tamla label, which had been
established by Berry Gordy Jr. after the encouragement of Smokey Robinson,
and before long they were achieving hit after hit in the charts. These included “You Really Got
A Hold On Me”, “I Like It Like That”, “Going to a
Go-Go”. “Tracks of My Tears“ and “Tears of a
Clown”. During the
earlier years at Motown he also recorded in a duo with Smokey Robinson and
their releases went out under the guise of Ron & Bill.
At the same time he discovered and introduced his
11-year old neighbour, Steveland Morris, to Berry Gordy Jr. who was so
impressed he gave him a contract.
He would become one of the most well-known and successful American
artists going by the name Stevie Wonder.
His songwriting skills were also successful when he
collaborated with Smokey Robinson and other group members on hits such as
“You Beat Me to the Punch” by Mary Wells, “My Girl”
and “Don’t Look Back” by The Temptations and “Ain’t
That Peculiar” by Marvin Gaye.
He remained with the group after the departure of Smokey Robinson
and in 1978 The Miracles hit “Love Machine” became their most
He went his own way after the group had all but
disbanded in the 1980s and became a successful real estate developer. He died in Detroit at the young age
of 56 after having lost his battle with leukaemia but his singing and
songwriting will always be remembered.
He was a BMI Award winning songwriter and features on
the 2006 DVD Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: The Definitive Performances
1963-1987. He will also be
recognised with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with the Miracles in
2009, which will be their 50th anniversary.
The Miracles recordings
Love Machine (Part 1)/Love Machine (Part 2) (UK 45)
Tamla Motown TMG 1015