We look back on Warren “Pete” Moore as a bass singer, songwriter and a producer for one of Motown’s most successful singing groups, the Miracles, with his daughter Monique Moore, singer Debby Boone and the band Fanny’s guitarist June Millington.
By Warren Kurtz
Pete Moore, Getty Images
Monique Moore shared with Goldmine that her father passed away on November 19th on his 79th birthday, not age 78 as other articles have reported. She loves her father’s music that she grew up with as a daughter of a Miracle.
While in high school, Warren Moore and William Robinson, nicknamed Pete and Smokey, formed a vocal quintet, which eventually became the Miracles. Other members included Ronnie White, Bobby Rogers and his cousin Claudette Rogers, who replaced her brother Sonny Rogers when he was drafted into the Army. They were signed to Motown’s Tamla label, with their first single “Got a Job,” in 1958, as an answer song to the Silhouettes’ “Get a Job” from earlier that year. The following year Claudette Rogers married Smokey Robinson. In 1961, the group released their debut album, “Hi We’re the Miracles,” which featured their first Top 40 hit single, “Shop Around,” making it to the Top 5 and then returning to the Top 5 the following decade, covered by the Captain & Tennille.
Pete Moore furthest to the right
In 1964, Claudette Robinson retired from the group to raise her and Smokey Robinson’s family.
In 1965, Pete Moore co-wrote two popular songs for the group, which both peaked at number 16, “Ooh Baby Baby” followed by “The Tracks of My Tears,” and returned to the Top 40 the following decade, covered by Linda Ronstadt. A version of “The Tracks of My Tears” was also a hit single for Johnny Rivers and a strong album cut for Brenda Russell.
Pete Moore, upper-left
In November 1965, in time for the holiday gift giving season, a new album from the Miracles was released called “Going to a Go-Go.” The album included that year’s hit singles, “Ooo Baby Baby,” “The Tracks of My Tears” plus another Top 20 hit single on the radio that fall, which Pete Moore co-wrote, called “My Girl Has Gone.”
Flip side: Choosey Beggar
A side: Going to a Go-Go
Top 100 debut: December 25, 1965
Peak position: 11
Between the holiday tunes in December, radio stations began playing the title tune from the Miracles’ album. The “Going to a Go-Go” single debuted in Billboard on Christmas Day. It was a lively record, following their three ballads, and went to the Top 20 in early 1966. Both sides of the single were co-written by Pete Moore. The flip side “Choosey Beggar,” also from the album, was a smooth love song which claimed, “I’m a choosey beggar and you’re my choice.” This flip side received enough airplay on R&B radio to propel it to number 35 on the R&B charts. In 1979, on her self-titled third album for Warner Brothers, Debby Boone did a beautiful cover version, true to the original arrangement. She told Goldmine in our May 2017 issue, “My producer Brooks Arthur knew so many musicians and had them on our sessions. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. On bass was Leland Sklar, a big bear with a big beard, such a wonderful, down to earth guy. I sang Smokey’s lines as he had delivered them, even his word ‘choicey.’”
Pete Moore on the left
Pete Moore co-wrote “You Must Be Love” on the 1966 “Make it Happen” album and this love song served as the flip side of “I Second that Emotion” in 1967. The following year, the group had their debut on the Ed Sullivan show with a medley of “I Second That Emotion,” “If You Can Want” and “Going to A-Go-Go.” They also performed a cover version of the Beatles’ “Yesterday,” joined by Miracles guitarist Marvin Tarplin. The next year, March 1969, the group returned to the show with Pete Moore providing his bass vocal to “Doggone Right.” The group also performed an inspiring, up-tempo version of “Abraham, Martin and John.” Both singles reached the Top 40 in 1969. Additionally, another Pete Moore composition, “Here I Go Again,” which was the flip side of “Doggone Right,” reached number 37, making it the most successful flip side for the group. As a producer, Pete Moore achieved success with their Top 10 single that year, “Baby Baby Don’t Cry.” All these 1969 songs were included on the group’s “Time Out” album.
Pete Moore on the left
In addition to his work with the Miracles, Pete Moore also co-wrote songs for other Motown acts including “Since I Lost My Baby” for the Temptations and Marvin Gaye’s “I’ll Be Doggone” and “Ain’t That Peculiar,” which was also a Top 100 single for the group Fanny in the following decade. Fanny’s June Millington told Goldmine, “’Aint’ That Peculiar’ is not only incredibly funky, it has a whimsical lyric. It translated easily into putting slide guitar and a rock beat to it, especially since we had played it in clubs for a while. What a groove that gets right to it.”
“City of Angels” album cover.
In the early ‘70s Smokey Robinson left the Miracles and was replaced by Billy Griffin, who co-wrote the group’s final number one single with Pete Moore, “Love Machine,” from the “City of Angels” album, with the cover photo featuring their star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Claudette Robinson at Pete Moore’s memorial, courtesy of Monique Moore
Warren Kurtz is a Contributing Editor at Goldmine, known for “Fabulous Flip Sides” along with interviews, CD, DVD and book reviews. “Warren’s Fabulous Flip Sides” can be heard most Saturday mornings, in the 9 a.m. hour, Eastern time, on WVCR radio as part of “Moments to Remember.”