The King of Motown. William "Smokey" Robinson recently turned 71 years old on February 19th. There's not another voice on the planet like him. Sultry, sweet, and a smooth high tenor, Smokey's voice is easily recognizable within a syllable or two. A unique singer, prolific songwriter, sought after producer, and vice-president of Motown Records his career has spanned over 50 years.
Smokey was part of the singing group The Matadors, which later became known as The Miracles. Having just begun college in 1959, Smokey met then song-writer Berry Gordy and began a working relationship which led to a contract with Motown Records. Besides singing and composing for his own group, Smokey also wrote for other artists such as The Temptations, Mary Wells, The Four Tops, The Marvelettes, and Marvin Gaye.
Shop Around- Smokey Robinson and the Miracles had their first hit in 1960 with this classic song.
Ooo Baby Baby-
Considered by some to be their signature hit, this song was a hit single in 1965. In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine included it on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
I Second That Emotion- A 1967 hit for The Miracles, it was also a hit covered by The Supremes two years later.
The Tracks of My Tears
- An often covered song and a popular one in karaoke bars, but no one does it as well as Smokey.
In 1972 Smokey disbanded The Miracles and went solo. He was also busy in his role as VP at Motown Records. He had several successful albums leading into the 1980's . As so often seems to be the case, drugs interferred with his life and Smokey battled a cocaine addiction. He claims to have had a spiritual healing from drugs and has maintained that lifestyle. In 1988 Smokey resigned from Motown when it was sold to MCA.
Just to See Her-
This song brought Smokey his first Grammy Award in 1987.
A Billboard Top Ten hit in 1979 for Smokey as a solo artist.
This song makes me want to slow dance on a beach with a tropical drink in hand. Cruise with me, baby...
Being With You
- Smokey's first and last time on the UK hit chart as a solo artist was with this title track song from the album of in 1981. In the U.S. it made it to number one on the Hot Soul Singles list and number 2 on Billboard.
Tears of a Clown - One of my favorite webcast shows is Live From Daryl's House, with artists jamming at Daryl Hall's place. Some great collaborations have been filmed there. I love this one.
You Really Got a Hold On Me- I first heard this song on a Beatles album. This duet Smokey does while on Elvis Costello's show, Spectacle, shows that all these years later a good song is a good song is a good song.
Smokey continues to collect some well-deserved accolades for his contributions to Soul and R & B music. Some notable ones:
*1999 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
*2002 National Medal of Arts
* 2006 one of five Kennedy Center honorees
* 2009 The Miracles were finally honored as a group with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
*2009 Smokey Robinson received an honorary doctorate degree from Berkelee College of Music
My musical tastes are quite diverse. I choose what I'm listening to based on my mood. Sometimes nothing quite hits the mark like a little Smokey. Spend some time with him today if you can... if the mood strikes.