Smokey Robinson - Biography

Smokey RobinsonWilliam "Smokey" Robinson (born February 19, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan) is an American R&B and soul singer and songwriter.

Of both African-American and Caucasian ancestry, Robinson was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. In 1955, Robinson helped found the Miracles and became lead singer. The group issued a few somewhat successful singles on End Records and Chess Records. In the 1950s, Robinson met Berry Gordy, Jr., founder of Detroit's Motown Records, which became his label. The two men 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.

The Motown song "Shop Around" (1960) was the first big hit for the Miracles. This was followed by "Mickey's Monkey" (1963), "I Gotta Dance to Keep From Crying", "I Second That Emotion" (1967), "The Love I Saw In You Was Just a Mirage", "Ooo Baby Baby", "Baby, Baby, Don't Cry", "The Tracks of My Tears" (1965) and "You Really Got a Hold on Me" (1962). Later, Mary Wells and the Temptations had big hits with Robinson originals, "My Guy" (1964) and "My Girl" (also from 1964), respectively.

Legendary singer and songwriter Bob Dylan described 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, a singer with The Miracles, Robinson started towards a solo career. Albums were released as "Smokey Robinson & the Miracles" after 1967. The group faltered somewhat in the early 1970s, though hits such as the #1 "The Tears of a Clown" (1970) still did quite well.

Robinson left The Miracles in 1972. They went on for a while, even having another #1 hit, "Love Machine", in 1976. In 2001, the group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. By this time, Robinson was a vice-president of Motown and he helped helm the label's shift towards an urban, contemporary soul sound. This genre is now called "Quiet Storm" after a radio programming format named for Robinson's biggest solo album title track, Quiet Storm. He was also a guest judge for American Idol Season 2, during "Billy Joel Week"

The Miracles

The Miracles is an American vocal harmony group that was formed in 1955 at Northern High School in Detroit, Michigan.

The group is noted for lead singer Smokey Robinson, who was one of the founding members, and later became one of the most successful songwriters and record producers of all time. The Miracles issued a few somewhat successful singles on End Records and Chess Records. In 1960, they were signed by Motown and had numerous hits on both the R&B and Pop charts.

Members included: lead singer Smokey Robinson (born February 19, 1940), Emerson Rogers (born February 19, 1940), Bobby Rogers (born February 19, 1940), Ronnie White (April 5, 1939 - August 26, 1995), and Pete Moore (born November 19, 1935). All five members were natives of Detroit. Emerson Rogers left the band in 1956 and was replaced by his sister, Claudette Rogers, who later married Smokey Robinson.

The group's single "Shop Around" (1960) was their first Motown hit, and the first Motown song to reach #1 on the R&B charts. This was followed by hits such as "Who's Lovin' You" (1961), "You Really Got A Hold On Me" (1962), "Mickey's Monkey" (1963), "Going To A Go-Go" (1965), "The Tracks Of My Tears" (1965), and their signature song, "Ooh, Baby Baby" (1965).

After Robinson and Claudette married, he started towards a solo career. The name of the group was changed to Smokey Robinson & the Miracles with the release of "I Second That Emotion" in 1967. This name change, along with the change of The Supremes to Diana Ross & the Supremes, inspired David Ruffin, then lead singer of Motown act The Temptations, to demand that his group be renamed David Ruffin & the Temptations. The change never occurred, and Ruffin was replaced by Dennis Edwards, previously the lead singer of The Contours, in 1968.

The Miracles' career faltered somewhat during the 1970s, though hits such as 1970's "The Tears of a Clown" still did quite well. "The Tears of a Clown" was in fact recorded in 1967, and became the group's only US #1 hit after becoming a hit in the United Kingdom.

In 1972, Robinson left The Miracles for a successful solo career, replaced by Billy Griffin. The group continued, and scored the biggest hit of its existence with 1976's #1 hit "Love Machine (Part 1)". However, the group's other releases failed to match the success of "Love Machine", and The Miracles never managed to regain their former fame.

In 2001, the group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

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