Saturday, December 09, 2017


Born, William Robinson Jr. on the 19th day of February 1940, Smokey Robinson (as he was later popularly called) is one of the greatest all-time singers the world has ever known and holds a revered spot among music legends the world over. 

He was born to poor parents (a black father and a French mother) in North End, Detroit. As a child, his uncle nicknamed him 'Smokey Joe' and the first part of that name stuck to him like glue. His musical career kicked off while he attended Northern High School, Smokey who was scored below average as a student had a strong affiliation with musical circles in school, he went on in his senior year (1955) in high school to form a musical group called the Five Chimes with his schoolmates Peter Moore and Ronald White. The musical group, The Five Chimes became so successful locally that in 1957 new members were included and its name changed to The Matadors. The Matadors new lineup were Emerson Rogers, Marv Tarplin, and Bobby Rogers.

Worthy of note is the fact that Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross lived a couple of houses away and Smokey was always heard saying he knew Diana since she was eight years of age. 

While growing up in the poor section of Detroit, Smokey Robinson was influenced by a couple of musical trends of that time which include, Billy Ward and his Dominoes, Barrett Strong including Nolan Strong and the Diablos. 1958, saw The Matadors change to The Miracles and at this point, the musical band had hit the big stage as they began to go on a tour of the American state of Detroit.

What turned out to be a disappointment became a blessing in disguise for the band as they in 1957 failed an audition to be taken under the wings of Brunswick Records. While they were heading out disappointed, they met with the popular songwriter Berry Gordy who had some business to do at Brunswick Studios that day, after exchanging pleasantries a conversation sparked between Berry and Smokey, where Smokey who had his most prized possession at that time on him (a notebook which contained 100 songs he wrote in High School) offered it to Berry who perused its content and was greatly impressed. 

Gordy from this point became very interested in The Miracles and with his aid, The Miracles released their first studio album on End Records titled 'Get a Job' which was the very beginning a hugely successful musical career for the band. January of 1959 saw Robinson admitted into College to study electrical engineering, a few months later he dropped out of college following the massive success of The Miracles first album.

The Miracles have a long history with the very popular Motown Records as Berry Gordy happened to be its founder and released their first ever chartbuster hit single 'Shop Around' under the label in 1960 which made it Motown's first million-mark hit album. 

Smokey Robinson over the years moved from being The Miracles lead singer and songwriter to its producer and that saw within a decade a massive 26 hit albums released. In 1973, Smokey Robinson went solo and came out with the all-time hit SMOKEY album. Smokey Robin got married to fellow band member Claudette Rogers in 1959 and the couple had two children from the union, a son, Berry Robinson (1965) named after their lifelong friend and benefactor Berry Gordy and a daughter, Tamla Robinson (1969) named after Berry Gordy's first Record Label (Tamla Records) which later became Motown Records. Smokey had a child (Trey) out of wedlock in 1984 which led to his divorce in 1986 from Claudette. Smokey Robinson is currently married to Frances Gladney Robinson, they sealed their union in marriage in 2002.

Smokey is still strong and hearty and still has his unique lustrously bright golden green eyes which he admits belongs to his French great-grandmother; he is a great student of Transcendental Meditation and has been practicing it for decades; Smokey stopped eating red meat in 1972 and attributes his vigor to this fact. 

Worthy of note is the fact that Smokey Robinson can be referred to as a musician with one of the most musical album releases and consistent relevance. Listed below are Smokey Robinson's solo hit albums after he left The Miracles:

Smokey - 1973
Pure Smokey - 1974
A Quiet Storm -1975
Smokey's Family Robinson - 1976
Deep in My Soul - 1977
Big Time - 1977 (Extracted for movie soundtrack)
Love Breeze (1978)
Smokin' (1978)
Where There's Smoke (1979)
Warm Thought (1980)
Being With You (1981)
Yes It's You Lady (1982)
Touch the Sky (1983)
Essar (1984)
Smoke Signals (1986)
One Heartbeat (1987)
Love, Smokey (1990)
Double Good Evening (1991)
Intimate (1999)
Food for the Spirit (2004)
My World (2005)
Timeless Love (2006)
Time Flies When You're Having Fun (2009)
Now and Then (2010)
Smokey and Friends (2014)

Smokey Robinson also has numerous hit singles which are not listed here but which became chartbusters globally.

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