William "Smokey" Robinson
Smokey Robinson in concert at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California, on August 17, 2006.
William ("Smokey") Robinson (born February 19, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan) is an American R&B singer-songwriter. Most of his hit records were on Motown Records or one of its labels, and many of them were performed with The Miracles, his longtime band.
Robinson is an African American. His mother died when he was young; his sister raised him afterwards. Robinson met Berry Gordy when Motown first became famous. He showed Gordy the lyrics to a song he had written. When Gordy asked if Smokey had any other songs, the young man pulled out a notebook with nearly a hundred of them. Few of the songs had potential, but Gordy liked what he saw in Robinson, and signed him and his band to Motown. Gordy helped Robinson become a better songwriter, and sometimes they wrote together. Some of Robinson's songs, like "My Girl" and "My Guy", were hits for other Motown artists.
Robinson's hits with the Miracles included "Goin' to a Go-Go", "You Really Got a Hold On Me", "Shop Around", "Ooh Baby Baby", "Mickey's Monkey", and "Baby, Baby Don't Cry". Stevie Wonder gave Robinson an unfinished song he'd begun in the studio, to see if he could add lyrics and a tune. The song reminded Robinson of circus music, and he remembered I Pagliacci, an opera about clowns. The finished song was called "The Tears of a Clown", and it became another hit.
Robinson left the Miracles during the 1970s, and began a solo career. The Miracles still had hits (like "Love Machine"), and so did Robinson, with songs like "Cruisin'" and "Being With You".