Marvin Tarplin (June 13, 1941 – September 30, 2011) was an American guitarist and songwriter, best known as the guitarist for the Miracles from the 1950s through the early 1970s. He was one of the group’s original members and co-wrote several of their biggest hits, including the 1965 GrammyHall Of Fame-inducted “The Tracks of My Tears“. He is also a winner of the BMI Songwriter’s Award, and the ASCAP Award Of Merit, and was a 2012 posthumous inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Miracles.
Referred to as the Miracles’ “secret weapon”, Tarplin began his career accompanying the Supremes, who at the time were still teenagers, and known as the Primettes. They were seeking an audition with Motown Records, and Tarplin played guitar as they performed for Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson. Robinson was impressed by Tarplin’s guitar playing, and lured him away from the Primettes to join the Miracles in 1958. In the 2006 Motown DVD release, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: The Definitive Performances 1963–1987, Robinson and fellow Miracles Pete Moore and Bobby Rogers commented that Tarplin’s guitar playing style was reminiscent of the late Curtis Mayfield, and was the inspiration behind many of their greatest hits. His guitar riffs at the beginning of the Miracles’ 1965 Grammy Hall of Fame million-seller, “The Tracks of My Tears“, are among the most famous in pop music history.