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Smokey Robinson A Living Legend in the Music and the Songs Behind Motown

Updated on April 19, 2013

Smokey Robinson Now and Then


The Man and His Music

Who is Smokey Robinson? In deep appreciation for the man and his music, this is a tribute to a true living legend. Smokey Robinson’s songs are filled with inspiring harmony.

There is a voice everyone recognizes, a voice that speaks to our hearts. Each of us has a voice that profoundly impacts our lives.

Smokey was my inspiration. This green eye soul brother from Detroit is legendary. His voice amplified my stereo growing up, increasing my love for words and poetry.

In music, the voice may be pop rock, R&B, jazz. or classical instrumentals. It could be the voice of country music, or the sounds of Motown. My love for music, poetry, and song came from Smokey.

Originally formed as The Chimes, then later as, The Matadors, Smokey Robinson has been performing for over 60 years.

Eventually named The Miracles, after Smokey’s wife Claudette joined the group. Pulling a name out of hat, The Miracles were formed.

The Early Years

During those early years, Barry Gordy, the founder of Motown, became the manager for The Miracles.

Writing songs for the masses, Smokey’s endearing quality is mystical. God has given him a beautiful gift. With a voice of sweet harmony, his vocals arrangements touch souls.

Many singers come and go in life, but his music is legendary.

In 1964, Claudette retired from the group and the group's name changed to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. In 1965, Smokey wrote the surprising hit, “My Girl” and introduced it to the Temptations. This song reached number one on the record charts and is still being sung by many artists today.

In the years that followed, William Smokey Robinson wrote many more hits. Songs like “ooh Baby, Baby”“Tracks of my Tears” –and “Quiet Storm.”

Later, the song "Cruisin" became popular once again when it was performed by Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis in the movie, Duets.

Tears of a Clown

Motown and the Music

Motown's roots were founded in the streets of Detroit. Later moving to Los Angeles to be directly involved in the entertainment industry, the music of Motown still remains as the soundtrack of our lives.

Instrumental in writing hundreds of songs for the Motown artists he is an inspirational artist. Smokey served as vice president of Motown records from 1961-1988.

Groups break up due to dissension but the Miracles did not. "Sweet Harmony" was the goodbye anthem Smokey sang to his Miracle brothers.

“Tears of a Clown” the 1972 song, was written about the Italian clown, Pagliacci. The story goes that the clown would make everyone laugh, but when he returned to his dressing room, he would be sad. His sadness was from being lonely. Smokey wrote this song about him.

Here is a lyric sample:

“If there’s a smile on my face its only there to fool the public.. Don’t let my glad expression give you the wrong impression.”

What irony in the words. Smokey is a lyrical genius; the voice, pure poetic brilliance. His music has a harmony that speaks directly into the heart and soul, touching us like a whisper.

Where did I get my inspiration to write all those years ago? It was in my silence, listening to the words sung by Smokey.

Music is Made for Love

Smokey represents the inner soul of music.

The Quiet Storm album is one of my ultimate favorites.

After focusing his time in the business world for over 3 years, Smokey had yearned to go back to being the artist. Missing the performance of the music his sadness was profound.

Then Quiet Storm was born. The song was about his silence but about something else that is not necessarily quiet, such as a storm.

The music from these times will never be recreated. A generation in his time, it inspired unity between brothers, love for mankind. Styles changed and Smokey changed with the times.

Motown inspires us even today, the music is still playing. Artists like the Temptations, the Four Tops, and Stevie Wonder are still heard across the radios today.

One thing I know for sure is the way this music makes me feel. It doesn’t matter what the past has been for the future of Motown will live on.

On leaving a legacy I read Smokey said, that he would want to have had a positive impact on people, to have set a good example. He recognized his weakness as part of life and that nobody is without them. In spite of those weaknesses, his words were, “you too can make it.”

Music is made for love, turning the world upside down, inspiring hope along the way, its beauty is indescribable. A magic happens when the music takes your mind, opens your heart, and moves your soul.

Today he is singing the praises of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I am a fan yes. Without Smokey I may never have become a writer, a poet, with a deep appreciation for musical inspiration.

For generations to come, Smokey’s music will be heard.

This has been my tribute to an amazing poet.

Impressions are made, artists are created, but music is universal.

Smokey Robinson - Time Flies


American Idol artists performed Motown songs on March 23, 2011.

Paul McDonald, one of the idols, performed one of Smokey's number one songs, "Track of my Tears." His voice was crisp, clean, and unique. A different sound but distinctive, Paul took Smokey's song and rekindled it to a whole new level.

I love how the Motown sound is still alive today with the new artists singing these traditional songs.

What a great tribute to the Motown legends!


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    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Fabulous tribute hub to Smokey! He's been an inspiration to many of us. I stopped by to wish him a Happy Birthday (2/19/13) I hope he one day reads your hub! :)

    • FaithDream profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thanks creativeone. Smokey will always be my soul inspiration. Your sister has good taste. :)

      Thanks vocalcoach. I appreciate the vote up. His music touches hearts and that voice, well, you know. Thanks!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      8 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I just love Smokey Robinson. His tone is unique and always filled with passion. Thank you for doing a wonderful tribute to him. Rated up! :) vocalcoach

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you FaithDream, I really appreciated the hub on Smokey Robinson, I like his music, but my sister loved smokey. God bless you. creativeone59

    • FaithDream profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thanks Fossillady. That's a huge compliment to me. Smokey has always been my inspiration. I just saw a program honoring 50 years of Kenny Rogers music and Smokey sang.

      Even after all these years, he still has it. I appreciate you commenting.

    • Fossillady profile image


      8 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Great memories of Smokey, now I know where you get some of your inspiration. His voice is very unique. The last performance I saw of him was just last year when he was a mentor on American Idol. He still sounds great!


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