Smokey Robinsonwas born on February 19, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan, in the North End Neighborhood. When he was still a child, he was nicknamed Smokey Joe by one of his uncles because he loved cowboy movies. While in his teens the nickname was shortened to just Smokey. Smokey is a R&B and soul singer plus songwriter. He is one of the main artists involved with the Motown record label. He was a member of the group, The Miracles and also a solo artist. He recorded thirty seven Top 40 hits for Motown from 1960 and 1987. He was also the Motown Record Company’s Vice President from 1961 to 1988.
Smokey formed his first group in 1955, at the age of 15. They called the group The Five Chimes. Themembers were, his best friend, Ronald White, and classmates Pete Moore, Clarence Dawson, and James Grice. In 1957 the group was renamed to The Matadors and this time included his cousins, Emerson and Bobby Rogers. They took the place of Dawson and Grice. Later Emerson was replaced with his sister, Claudette Rogers, who later married Smokey Robinson. Smokey was the lead singer and they began to tour in local Detroit places. When Smokey met Berry Gordy (founder of Motown), he began to co-write the single, Got A Job, for them. After that the group renamed themselves, The Miracles. They also released singles on both End Records and Chess records before Smokey suggested to Gordy that he start his own record label.
Smokey began a solo career in 1973, and his first hit single, Sweet harmony, was dedicated to the Miracles. Smokey released many singles and albums after that. He was very successful and had many fans. In the mid 1980's he had a cocaine addiction. His marriage suffered as well as his recordings. He was divorced in 1986. He got over his addiction at a religious service. In 1987 he was back to recording and releasing the hits again. Motown was sold to MCA in 1988 and Smokey resigned from his position as vice president of the company. He also left the company after one last album in 1990 called, Love. In 1991 he won a Soul Train Music Award for Career Achievement. After eight years he returned to Motown, In 1999, he received the Grammy lifetime Achievement Award. He served as a guest judge on American Idol during the Billy Joel Week. In 2006, Howard university gave Smokey the degree of Doctor of Music. He is also the spokesman for The Great American Smokeout each year one week before Thanksgiving. He performed on the finale of American Idol on Season 6, in May, 2007. He and the top 6 male contestants performed a medley of his hits. Smokey has released a total of 22 albums and 20 singles during his music career.
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