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Smokey Robinson Guitarist Marv Tarplin Dead at 70

Musician co-wrote 'Tracks of My Tears,' many more

October 5, 2011 10:00 AM ET
marv tarplin death guitar smokey robinson
Marv Tarplin, center, with Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Marv Tarplin, the Motown guitarist and songwriter behind Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, died on Friday at his home in Las Vegas at the age of 70. His cause of death has not yet been determined.

Tarplin began his career at Motown in the late Fifties as the guitarist in the Primettes, a teenage girl group that later evolved into the Supremes. He was drafted into Robinson's band, where he would go on to write the memorable chord progression at the center of the group's classic hit "Tracks of My Tears."

Photos: Random Notes
In addition to his work with Robinson, Tarplin collaborated with Marvin Gaye on the hits "I'll Be Doggone" and "Ain't That Peculiar." The guitarist never stopped working with Robinson, continuing to write, record and perform with the singer until Tarplin's retirement in 2008.

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