Smokey Robinson

Multi-talented performer/writer/producer Smokey Robinson’s career, and life, is inextricably tied up with Motown Records’ founder Berry Gordy (his first two children are named Tamla, for the Gordy-owned label Smokey recorded for, and Berry, for Gordy himself). He and Gordy have had a professional and personal relationship since the late 1950s, when Robinson went to work for Gordy’s budding musical empire not only as a performer with his group, The Miracles, but also as a songwriter/producer. Robinson and The Miracles began turning out an almost unbroken string of hits in the early 1960s on Gordy’s Tamla label (although they had minor hits on a few labels before they signed with Gordy). Robinson’s high, warm tenor was perfect for the romantic ballads that he wrote for the group (one of the music industry’s most prolific songwriters, Robinson was also such an imaginative one that Bob Dylan once called him “America’s greatest living poet”), although they could also do hard, driving dance records (i.e., “Mickey’s Monkey”). In addition to his writing/performing/producing chores for The Miracles, Robinson also turned out hit after hit for other Motown acts: Mary Wells (“My Guy”), The Temptations (“My Girl”), and others for The Marvelettesand Marvin Gaye. He left The Miracles to go solo in 1972, and met with even more success, turning out hit record after hit record all through the 1970s and 1980s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

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