Marvin Tarplin

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Guitarist Marv Tarplin started working with the Miracles in 1958, both in the studio and as a touring guitarist. Tarplin had a knack for coming up with interesting melodies and catchy riffs. Miracles…
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Guitarist Marv Tarplin started working with the Miracles in 1958, both in the studio and as a touring guitarist.

Tarplin had a knack for coming up with interesting melodies and catchy riffs. Miracles member Warren "Pete" Moore and Smokey Robinson would often listen while Tarplin noodled around on his guitar until they heard something that they liked. Either the melodic idea was taped or Robinson and Moore would rush off to Motown's recording studio to which they had around the clock access.

A list of songs Tarplin contributed for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles would include: "I Like It Like That" on the album From the Beginning, "The Tracks of My Tears" (number two, summer 1965), "My Girl Has Gone" (number three R&B, fall 1965, "Going to a Go Go" (number two R&B, early 1966) from the LP Going to a Go Go, "The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage" from the LP Tears of a Clown, "Doggone Right" from the LP Time Out, and "Point It Out" (number four R&B) from the LP Four in Blue.

Tarplin came up with the melody for "Ain't That Peculiar" while traveling in England as part of the Motown Motortown Revue. Miracles member Warren Pete Moore and Robinson took the tune to Motown rhythm arranger Willie Shorter who did the basic musical charts for the song, which was used as the basis of arranger Paul Riser's string arrangement. Gaye's second number one R&B single, "Ain't That Peculiar" (Moore/Robinson/Miracles member Bobby Rogers/Tarplin), went to number one R&B and number eight pop in fall 1965. Other hits by Gaye that Tarplin co-wrote were "I'll Be Doggone" (number one R&B, number eight pop), "One More Heartache" (number four R&B), and "Take This Heart of Mine."

When Smokey Robinson launched his solo career in 1972, Tarplin co-wrote some of his most memorable tunes: the sensuous "Baby Come Close" with the engaging "Silent Partner in a Three-Way Love Affair" on the flip side, "Open," the pop music career reinvigorating smooth cut "Cruisin'," (number four R&B/pop) from the LP Where There's Smoke..., and "I've Made Love to You a Thousand Times." The glistening "Madam X" was a popular radio-aired LP track from Robinson's 1978 Love Breeze.

What may be one of Robinson's most revealing works, "Just My Soul Responding," was the flip side of "It's Here Turn to Live," with the full-length LP version receiving substantial airplay. The alluring "Just Passing Through" was the flip side of "Baby That's Backatcha" (number one R&B) from his Quiet Storm LP. "Precious Little Things," a steppers favorite, was included on the Robinson-produced 1972 Motown LP by the Supremes, Floy Joy.