The Miracle of life began for Robert Edward “Bobby” Rogers, on February 19, 1940, in Detroit, Michigan. He was the first of seven children born to the union of Robert James and Lois Winifred Rogers. His parents, and sisters Jeanette Cullum, Jacqueline “Jackie” Rogers, Geraldine “Jerri” Childs, and daughter Robin Foucher, preceded him in death.
Wrapped in the love and security of a warm, close-knit family Bobby always felt free to explore his many interests, mastering most of whatever he attempted. It was during his high school years, attending Cass Technical High School, and graduating from Northeastern High School that he developed a passion for music. He, Claudette Rogers (later Robinson), and friends Pete Moore, Ronnie White, and William “Smokey” Robinson formed a group called “The Matadors”. Once the spark was lit, his passion for music and entertaining carried throughout a career spanning more than 55 years, partnered with those same friends from his school days.
Berry Gordy recognized the potential of the group and in 1957 they were the first act he signed to manage and produce. In 1959 Berry Gordy founded Motown Records. Changing their name to the Miracles, they became the first act signed to Motown Records, and Bobby’s cousin Claudette was the first female artist signed to the company. In 1960 The Miracles earned Motown their first million selling single “Shop Around.” They were Motown Royalty becoming one of the most successful recording acts in the world.
Bobby enjoyed the familial atmosphere among all of the acts, and always felt proud of his membership in the Motown family. He was a performing member of the Miracles, but was also able to express his individual talent as a writer, sharing writing credit on the Temptations first hit “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” The Contours “First I look at the purse,” Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t that Peculiar,” The Miracles “Going to a Go-Go,” and several others.
You can’t mistake that it is Bobby’s voice in the adlib opening of mega hit “What’s Going On,” by Marvin Gaye. He and a couple of the Detroit Lions football team members were in the studio when Marvin asked them to help start-off the song. Typical of Bobby he can be heard saying (in his playful manner) “Hey man, what’s your name? Everything is everything,” and “It’s just a groovy party, man, I can dig it”.
You can discern Bobby’s rich baritone accompanying Smokey on the group's hit “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” and his growl on the Miracles million selling single “Love Machine.” You always got the sense that he truly enjoyed what he was doing, and he always made it more fun for all those around him.
In 1972 when Smokey left the group, he was replaced by William Griffin. The Miracles continued to make million selling records and albums. After a brief disbandment of the group Bobby put together a new group including David Finley, maintaining the name The Miracles and he continued to perform as the only original member. It wasn’t until health complications made it impossible for him to perform that he stopped touring. When asked about the rigors of continuing to perform Bobby would laugh vowing to “push it til the wheels fall off.”
Bobby has received numerous awards and recognitions for his professional accomplishments, including induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grammy awards, recognition by the National Library of Congress, a park and a street in his home town of Detroit named in honor of the Miracles, and many more. He cherished them all, but none as much as his most valued recognition, “The World’s Best Father” bestowed by his children. While he was Bobby to friends and fans, and Daddy to his children, he was “Diddy” to his baby girl Bobbae.
His private life reflected the man he was. His generosity was ever present, but never more so than at the Christmas holidays when son Robert III, recalls the mountains of gifts that would be crammed into the car so they could be delivered to all family members, in-laws, and friends.
His children adored him, and he was a protective papa bear toward them. He had an answer for everything. When daughter Kim wanted to go to the movie with a neighbor boy, and was told by her mother that she was too young for an un-chaperoned date, Bobby couldn’t bear to see her disappointment. He solved it by announcing that they would all go to the movie. Mommy, Dad, Kim, and date all went to the theatre, so I guess you could say Kim’s first date was a double date with her parents. Few know that Bobby’s hobby was home renovations. He could tile a floor or countertop, put up framework, and tackle other projects as if he were a master handy-man.
He was even-tempered, calm and rational. Rarely showing anger, Bobby could quash most heated situations with his calmness, or when that failed, by making you laugh. His laugh was contagious, and there was no antidote for his sense of humor. Always the life of the party, he lit up a room with his presence. He loved life and it loved him in return. Bobby married Joan Hughes on his birthday more than 32 years ago. Their marriage was an example of unconditional love and mutual respect. Their love of God and each other allowed them to enjoy their life together, and in later years sustained them through the tough times of his health challenges. Joan was at his bedside when he gave a quiet sigh, and relaxed into the arms of God, on Sunday, March 3, 2013.
In addition to a world of adoring fans, friends, industry peers, and others who were touched in some way by his genuine goodness, Bobby leaves to celebrate his life and cherish his memory; his loving wife Joan, son Robert Rogers III of Southfield, Michigan, daughters Kimberly Hughes of Beverly Hills, California, Gina Belinda Hughes, and Bobbae LaWanda Rogers of Southfield, Michigan, grandchildren Brandi Williams-Harris, Amber Foucher, and Malik Foucher, a brother, Walter Rogers, 2 sisters, Louise Clark, and Azzile Kenney, and cousin and fellow group mate Claudette Robinson of Beverly Hills, California.