August 26, 1995 – Ronald Anthony ‘Ronnie’ White (The Miracles) was born on April 5, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan. White began his friendship with fellow Miracles co-founder Smokey Robinson when they were kids. The pair started singing together when White was 12 and Robinson was 11 as the duo Ron & Bill. They were soon joined by a third boy, Pete Moore, and in 1955, the trio formed a quintet called The Five Chimes, with two other boys.
After the inclusion of Bobby Rogers and his cousin Emerson “Sonny” Rogers, the group changed its name to the Matadors, and changed their name again to The Miracles after Claudette Rogers, of the sister group the Matadorettes, replaced “Sonny”.
The quintet soon began working with Berry Gordy following a failed audition with Brunswick Records and soon found fame after signing with Gordy’s Motown label under the Tamla subsidiary. White helped Robinson compose several hit singles including The Miracles’ “My Girl Has Gone” and “A Fork in the Road” and is known as the co-writer and co-producer of The Temptations’ signature song, “My Girl” and also co-wrote the same group’s “Don’t Look Back”. He also co-wrote Mary Wells’ “You Beat Me to the Punch” and Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar”. White would later win awards as a songwriter from the BMI. He also helped to bring a then unknown Stevie Wonder, his 11 year old neighbor, to Motown after overhearing him playing with White’s cousin; Wonder was signed immediately afterwards.
In 1966, The Miracles briefly retired from the road to work as staff songwriters and executives for the label, but soon complained of not getting paid, and returned to perform on the road the following year, in 1967. After Smokey and Claudette Robinson and long-time guitarist Marv Tarplin left the group in 1972, the group carried on with Billy Griffin as their new lead singer, scoring two more hits with Motown including the number-one smash, “Love Machine”, before leaving Motown in 1977 for Columbia Records. The group disbanded in 1978 after Pete Moore opted for retirement and Billy Griffin returned to his solo career.
White and Bobby Rogers revived the Miracles in 1980 with Dave Finley and Carl Cotton, calling themselves “The New Miracles”. This lasted until 1983, when White faced personal struggles following the death of his first wife, Earlyn Stephenson, who died from breast cancer that year. White announced a retirement shortly afterwards and the Miracles again disbanded. White and Rogers revived the Miracles again in 1993. From his marriage to Earlyn, he fathered two daughters, Michelle Lynn and Pamela Claudette. He later fathered a son, Ronald Anthony, II.
His only granddaughter, Maya Naomi, was born to Pamela after his death. White’s first born daughter, Michelle, succumbed to leukemia at the age of 9. White would later fight his own battle with leukemia and died, August 26, 1995, at the age of 57.
Ronnie can be seen performing with the Miracles on the 2006 DVD release: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles:The Definitive Performances 1963-1987 and in The T.A.M.I. Show (1964).
In 1987, Smokey Robinson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. Controversially, Ronnie White and the other original members of The Miracles, Bobby Rogers, Marv Tarplin, Pete Moore and Claudette Robinson, were not. However, The Miracles, including White, would later be retroactively inducted into the Hall of Fame by a special committee in 2012, alongside Smokey Robinson.
He was posthumously awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame on March 20, 2009 along with the other original members of The Miracles.