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Bobby Rogers

Posted by purplemary54 on March 5, 2013

Yesterday, it was announced that Bobby Rogers, one of Smokey Robinson’s Miracles, passed away at 73.  He was a lifelong friend of Robinson (they were born on the same day at the same Detroit hospital).  While this is a huge loss for his family and friends, it can only be considered a minor passing in the music world.

Except that’s not entirely accurate.  I’m not one to say that any one musical era was so much better than any other.  They all have their hits and misses.  (And let’s face it, a great deal of the music I love is pretty bad.)  But the passing of Bobby Rogers represents, both literally and figuratively, the loss of another voice from what was possibly the most formative and influential time in popular music.  For about a decade, from the mid-50s to the mid-60s (give or take a couple years), popular music was reformed.  Rock & Roll and Rhythm & Blues became the forms we know today.  While the styles have changed considerably, the basic format hasn’t.  There simply aren’t many of the original pioneers left.  Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard are still out there making noise.  Smokey himself, and other Motown luminaries such as Diana Ross.  The Universe has seen fit to grant us more time with Chuck Berry and B.B. King.  I could probably name a few more, but not many.  Bobby Rogers (he’s the tall, bespectacled fellow in the video) was part of a generation that’s vanishing, and that should be noted.

I’m deliberately not including The Beatles and Bob Dylan in this discussion, because with the advent of both, the rules changed somewhat.  They represent something different to me than the original rockers and crooners.  (The Beatles cited Motown as one of their greatest influences, covering many of that label’s songs on their early albums.)  That first generation created the form and format of the music; they have informed virtually everything that has happened since.  That’s not to say they don’t have roots themselves.  You can trace music history in an amazingly coherent continuous line very, very far back.  But it’s always important to note the moments when many different things come together to create something new, and that’s what happened with early Rock/R&B.  So listen to the radio with an ear to the past.  You’ll still hear the echoes of those artists, both living and dead.

Smokey Robinson said on learning of Rogers’ death that “Another soldier in my life has fallen.”  I think that’s a pretty good analogy for the man’s role in music history.

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4 Responses to “Bobby Rogers”

  1. sandee said

    “And let’s face it, a great deal of the music I love is pretty bad” — oh Mary — that’s funny! But it made me realize that I, too — while I enjoy music that has been considered great — I also like quite a bit of bad music! Margarita from Serenity in the City mentioned The Archie’s Sugar Sugar — I, love, this, song! — the voice of the singer, the lyrics. I think there’s quintessential pop genius in there. I think Justin Beiber should remake it!

  2. sandee said

    Not to say Sugar Sugar is bad music — but a lot of my death metal choices — hmmmmm… or some of the early seventies r &b grind ’em up music that I love — not necessarily musical genius…

    • “Musical genius” is not always one of my criteria for my listening choices. But that’s one of the things that makes music so much fun. You connect with the death metal and the R&B; it doesn’t have to be “critically acclaimed” to be music you love. I dig cheesy 70s pop, probably because it’s what I heard a lot of as a kid, not because any of it ever made an All-Time Greats list. BTW, I think your musical choices are totally cool.

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