This year as Motown Records turns 50, we can’t forget the smooth-voiced icon also celebrating 50 years in music who helped put that label on the map, Smokey Robinson. Today Robinson tours the world commanding some of the highest performance fees of any solo act. His biggest hits include Being With You, Quiet Storm, Just to See Her and dozens of others recorded during the 60’s and 70’s as the lead singer of “The Miracles”. Over the years Robinson has shown a “staying power” that has kept him relavant with both old and young. One of many examples of his contemporary influence included a stint on the hit Fox TV series “American Idol” as a celebrity judge.
Robinson and his group of high school friends (The Miracles) from Detroit’s Northern High School were the first signed act to Berry Gordy’s Tamla Records,soon to be renamed “Motown”. Robinson and his “Miracles” brought Gordy his first hit “Shop Around” which reached #1 on the R&B charts in 1960. By 1961 Robinson had become the label’s Vice President. While dominating the charts throughout the 60’s, Robinson took time to write songs for other Motown artists including Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Mary Wells and the Four Tops. In fact, Robinson is credited with over 4000 songs written for both himself and others during his career.
Robinson left the Miracles in 1972 to begin his solo recording career. After beating a cocaine habit which had slowed his music making into the 1980’s, he bounced back with a string of hits beginning in 1987.
Robinson’s numerous awards include a Doctorate of Music from Howard University, A Kennedy Center Honor and most recently a star on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame”.
WBLS salutes one of the smoothest voices in the history of music, Smokey Robinson.