Photo Credit: Donald Kravitz/Getty Images
In honor of Black Music Month, today we’re looking at the life of the King of Motown, Smokey Robinson.
Born February 19, 1940, singer, songwriter, and Grammy Award-winning record producer Smokey Robinson was destined to become one of the greatest entertainers of all time – the world just didn’t know it yet.
Smokey Joe, as his affectionately called him, fell in love with music when he explored his mother’s record collection that included artists like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. At the tender age of 10, the D-town youngin’ formed the legendary group The Miracles (first known as The Matadors). With a voice and stage presence like no other, famed record executive Berry Gordy took notice of Smokey and the group and helped them land a deal End Records. Fast-forward a few years, and The Miracles became the first act to launch Gordy’s Motown Records with “Shop Around.”
Over the years, the co-ed singing group released an array of hits including “She’s Really Got a Hold on Me” and “Ooo Baby Baby.”
Smokey became the Motown’s vice president and later tied the knot with group member Mary Wells, but after a while, he grew tired of juggling work, his family, and The Miracles. The quintet embarked on their farewell tour in 1970, and three years later, Smokey dropped his first self-titled solo album.
The Detroit released hit after hit, and celebrated his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Smokey stepped down as Motown’s vice president when the label was sold to MCA records in 1988, and released his last album with Motown, Love, Smokey, in 1990. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement that same year.
Nearly 30 years later, the King of Motown is still cruisin’ to record and perform around the world!