Smokey Robinson is an American singer who is best known as the frontman of the Motown vocal group the Miracles.
He was born on February 19, 1940, in Detroit, Michigan, USA, as William Robinson Jr.
His ancestry is Cherokee, Portuguese, Scandinavian, and Nigerian.
Robinson grew up in Detroit’s Brewster housing project.
In 1955, Smokey assembled a vocal group called the Five Chimes, which included Ronald White, Pete Moore, James Grice, and Clarence Dawson. The group changed their name to the Matadors in 1956, after Clarence left and Emerson Rogers took his place.
In 1957, the Matadors started working with songwriter Berry Gordy.
In 1958, Claudette Rogers joined the group. Later, the Matadors changed their name to the Miracles.
Working together, Robinson and Gordy created Motown Sound in 1959. Between 1960 and 1969, Motown achieved 79 records in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1960, the Miracles recorded their first hit single, titled – ”Shop Around.” The single reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, #1 on the Cash Box Magazine Top 100 Pop Chart, and #1 on the Billboard R&B chart. It sold over 1 million copies.
Also in 1960, the group released its second national hit, called “Way Over There.”
In 1972, Smokey left the Miracles to pursue a solo career. His debut solo album, ”Smokey” was released in June 1973 via Tamla Records.
He was awarded an individual star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 22, 1983.
In 1987, Smokey won his first Grammy Award as a solo artist for the song ”Just To See Her.” The song was from the album ”One Heartbeat” which was termed “another winning package of sharp, sophisticated soul” by Rolling Stone. In the same year, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1990, Robinson was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The Miracles received the Pioneer Award at the Rhythm and Blues Foundation for their musical achievements in 1997.
In 2001, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame & Museum.
In 2002, Robinson was awarded the US National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts.
The Miracles were honored as a group with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 20, 2009.
Robinson was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame in Detroit on August 21, 2016.
On November 7, 1959, Smokey Robinson married Claudette Robinson. The two divorced in 1987.
In May 2002, Smokey married Frances Glandney.
With his first wife, Smokey has two children, named Tamla and Berry. Robinson has a son Trey (b. in 1984) from another relationship.
Robinson is 5′ 10½” (179 cm) tall.
”I knew Jesus before I even did that to myself.”
”Whitney Houston was a great singer. Celine Dion is a great singer. Aretha Franklin was a great singer.” (AARP)
”My theory of writing is to write a song that has a complete idea and tells a story in the time allotted for a record.” (Rolling Stone)
”Once you’re a Motown artist, you’re always a Motown artist.”
”I love singing and it’s just an absolute habit with me.”
”Motown was music for everybody. Everybody.” (Variety)
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He received his nickname “Smokey Joe” from his Uncle Claude. Robinson said about his uncle: ”He used to take me to see cowboy movies all the time when I was a little boy because I loved cowboy movies.” Smokey went on to say: ”He got a cowboy name for me, which was Smokey Joe.”
In 2019, he was a guest on ”The Late Late Show with James Corden.” There, he and Corden talked about what soul music is better, classic or modern.
The Miracles appeared on many popular TV programs of the period, including Britain’s Ready Steady Go!, Upbeat, The Ed Sullivan Show, Hollywood A Go-Go, Shindig!, Teen Town, The Andy Williams Show, The Mike Douglas Show, Where The Action Is, American Bandstand, and Hullabaloo.
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Smokey Robinson – Net Worth
Robinson earned most of his wealth from being part of the Miracles as well as from his solo career. During his 50-year career in music, Smokey has released over 4,000 songs.
Some of the best songs of the Miracles are I Second That Emotion, Shop Around, Tears of a Clown, More Love, Going to a Go-Go, The Tracks of My Tears, Ooo Baby Baby, and You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me.
From 1961 to 1988, Robinson was the vice president of Motown Records. Therefore, singer Smokey Robinson has an estimated net worth of $105 million.
Featured image source – © Guliver / Getty Images.
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