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Smokey Robinson Bio - Smokey Robinson
Smokey Robinson Bio
William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr. (born February 19, 1940) is an African-American
R&B singer and songwriter. Smokey
Robinson is noted for being one of the primary figures associated with the Motown record label, second only to the company's founder, Berry Gordy. As both a member of Motown group
The Miracles and a solo artist, Robinson recorded seventy Top 40 hits for Motown between 1959 and 1990, and also served as the company's vice-president from 1961 to 1988.
Smokey Robinson was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and was nicknamed "Smokey" as a child because of his love of westerns. In 1955, Robinson founded a group he called "The Five Chimes" with his best friend
Ronnie White, and Northern High School classmates Pete
Moore, Clarence Dawson, and James Grice. By 1957, the group was called
"The Matadors" and included cousins Bobby Rogers and
Claudette Rogers in place of Dawson and Grice. With Robinson as lead singer,
the Matadors began touring the local Detroit venues. a few somewhat successful singles on End Records and Chess Records. In 1958,
Smokey Robinson met songwriter Berry Gordy,
Jr., who co-wrote for them the single "Got a Job", an answer song to The Silhouettes' hit single "Get A Job". The group renamed itself
The Miracles, and issued singles on both End Records and Chess Records before Robinson suggested to Berry Gordy that he start a label of his own.
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Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
|In 1959, Gordy founded Tamla Records, which he soon reincorporated as Motown.
The Miracles were among the label's first signees. Gordy and Smokey
Robinson had a synergistic relationship, with Robinson providing a foundation for Motown's hit-making success and Gordy acting as a mentor for the budding singer and songwriter. By 1961, Gordy had appointed Robinson vice-president of Motown Records, a title Robinson held for as long as Gordy remained with the company.
The 1960 single "Shop Around" was Motown's first #1 hit on the R&B singles chart, and the first big hit for
the Miracles. Many other hits over the years, among them "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" (1962), "Mickey's Monkey" (1963),
"Ooo Baby Baby (1965), "The Tracks of My Tears" (1965), "Going to a Go-Go" (1965), "More Love" (1967), and "I Second That Emotion" (1967).
Besides penning hits for his own group, Smokey
Robinson also wrote and produced many hits and album tracks for the other Motown artists. Mary Wells had a big hit with the Robinson-penned "My Guy" (1964), and Robinson served as The Temptations primary songwriter and producer from 1963 to 1966, during which period they recorded hits such as "The Way You Do the Things You Do", "My Girl", "Since I Lost My Baby", and "Get Ready". Among Robinson's numerous other Motown compositions are "Still Water (Love)" by The Four Tops, "Don't Mess With Bill" by The
Marvelettes, "When I'm Gone" by Brenda Holloway, "Ain't That Peculiar" and "I'll Be Doggone" by
Marvin Gaye, and "First I Look at the Purse" by The Contours.
Fellow singer/songwriter Bob Dylan described
Smokey Robinson as "America's greatest living poet." Robinson's numerous hit ballads also earned him the title "America's poet laureate of love." Over the course of his almost 50-year career in music, Robinson has over 4,000 songs to his credit.
After marrying Claudette Rogers, Robinson started a family, and named both of his children after Motown: his son was named Berry after the company's founder, and his daughter was named Tamla after the very label
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles recorded for.
The Miracles remained a premier Motown act through most of the first two-thirds of the 1960s. Albums were released as
"Smokey Robinson & the Miracles" after 1965. By 1969, the group's fortunes had begun to falter somewhat, and Robinson decided to quit the Miracles so that he could remain at home with his family and concentrate on his duties as vice president. Recording stopped, and Robinson was prepared to leave the group when their 1967 recording "The Tears of a Clown" was released as a single and became a #1 hit in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
Due to the success of "Tears of a Clown", Robinson was convinced to remain with the
Miracles for a few more years. In 1972, he followed through on his original plans to leave the group, and the Miracles began a six-month farewell tour. On July 16, 1972,
Smokey and Claudette Robinson gave their final performances as Miracles at the Carter Barron Amphitheater in Washington, DC, and Robinson introduced the group's new lead singer,
Billy Griffin. The Miracles went on for a while, even having another #1 hit, "Love Machine", in 1976.
Smokey Robinson began a low-key solo career while concentrating on his duties as vice-president of Motown, releasing his first solo LP, Smokey, in 1973. His first hit single, "Sweet Harmony" (1973), was dedicated to the Miracles.
In 1975, Robinson's solo career went into full-drive after the success of the #1
R&B hit "Baby That's
Backatcha". Robinson's 1976 single "Quiet
Storm" and its accompanying album typified a smooth, slow style of R&B that is today called "quiet storm" after the song. Future Robinson solo hits included
"Cruisin'" in 1979, "Being With You" (a U.K. #1 hit) in 1981, "Tell Me Tomorrow" in 1982, and "Ebony Eyes", a duet with labelmate Rick James, in 1983. He also recorded the soundtrack to the film Big Time in 1977.
During the mid-1980s, Robinson began to fall victim to an addiction to cocaine. His recording slowed, and his marriage to Claudette faltered; the two were divorced in 1986. Robinson eventually overcame the addiction and revitalized his career, scoring hits in 1987 with "Just To See Her" and "One Heartbeat". In 1988, Robinson published his autobiography, Smokey, and was inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Upon Motown's sale to MCA the same year, Robinson resigned from his position as vice-president. After one last album for Motown, 1990's Love, Smokey, Robinson departed the company. He'd release one record for SBK Records, which was released in 1991 and returned to Motown eight years later to release his most recent studio effort, 1999's "Intimate" before departing from the label again after the millennium hit.
Since then, Smokey Robinson has continued to periodically perform and tour. His most recent album, the
gospel LP Food for the Spirit, was released in 2004. In 2003, Robinson served as a guest judge for American Idol during
"Billy Joel Week". Robinson's company SFGL Foods markets a special brand of gumbo,
"Smokey Robinson's 'The Soul is in the Bowl' Gumbo".
Bio From: Wikipedia
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