During the course of his 50-year career in music, Robinson has accumulated more than 4,000 songs to his credit and continues to thrill sold-out audiences around the world with his high tenor voice, impeccable timing, and profound sense of lyric. Never resting on his laurels, Smokey Robinson remains a beloved icon in our musical heritage.
The Academy of Music was filled to near capacity last night with Smokey fans all anticipating a great concert and Smokey did NOT disappoint! Many loyal fans had hoped he would put on a show reminiscent of his younger days but surprisingly Smokey gave us so much more. Backed by 3 young talented singers and a very cool 6 -piece band the man took us on his Motown journey with such hits as “My Girl”, “Tears of A Clown”, “Being With You”, Tracks of My Tears” “Ooo Baby Baby”, ” You Really Got a Hold on Me” and so many more.
He entertained the audience with memories of his favorite performing friends such as The Temptations, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Gladys Knight, The Fifth Dimension, Stevie Wonder etc. and told a funny story about Stevie Wonder at a Motown party who offered to “drive Smokey home” if he would write lyrics for a tune Stevie wrote….think about it! Smokey was charming, grateful for this most enthusiastic crowd whose voices filled the space as they sang along to all his legendary tunes for and hour 45 minuets of non stop memories. Having seen Smokey perform with the Miracles too many years ago I never remember this lead singer “move” with such cool, sultry style as he truly melted the crowd! All I can say is “Smokey has still got it!
Once pronounced by Bob Dylan as America’s “greatest living poet,” acclaimed singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson’s career spans over four decades of hits. He has received numerous awards including the Grammy Living Legend Award, NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, Honorary Doctorate (Howard University), Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts Award from the President of the United States. He has also been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. In 2016 Robinson will be awarded the Gershwin Prize for his lifetime contributions to popular music.
Born William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr. in February 1940 and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Robinson founded The Miracles while still in high school. The group was Berry Gordy’s first vocal group, and it was at Robinson’s suggestion that Gordy started the Motown Record dynasty. Their single of Robinson’s “Shop Around” became Motown’s first #1 hit on the R&B singles chart. In the years following, Robinson continued to pen hits for the group including “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” “Going to a Go-Go,” “More Love,” “Tears of a Clown” (co-written with Stevie Wonder), and “I Second That Emotion.”
The Miracles dominated the R&B scene throughout the 1960’s and early 70’s and Robinson became Vice President of Motown Records serving as in-house producer, talent scout and songwriter. In addition to writing hits for the Miracles, Robinson wrote and produced hits for other Motown greats including The Temptations, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, Marvin Gaye and others. “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “My Girl,” “Get Ready,” “You Beat Me to the Punch,” “Don’t Mess with Bill,” “Ain’t That Peculiar,” and “My Guy” are just a few of his songwriting triumphs during those years. Between 1962 and 1966, Robinson was also one of the major songwriters and producers for Motown, penning several hit singles such as “Two Lovers”, “The One Who Really Loves You”, “You Beat Me to the Punch” and “My Guy” for Mary Wells; “The Way You Do The Things You Do”, “My Girl”, “Since I Lost My Baby” and “Get Ready” for the Temptations; “When I’m Gone” and “Operator” for Brenda Holloway; “Don’t Mess With Bill”, “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” and “My Baby Must Be a Magician” for the Marvelettes; and “I’ll Be Doggone” and “Ain’t That Peculiar” for Marvin Gaye.
John Lennon of The Beatles made countless remarks regarding Robinson’s influence on his music. The Beatles had recorded Robinson and The Miracles’ “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” in 1963 and in 1982 another popular British group, The Rolling Stones covered the Robinson and the Miracles’ hit “Going To A Go-Go.”
For more information about Smokey Robinson and his upcoming tour visit his website at www.smokeyrobinson.com
Photos: Kimmel Center.org.