Today is the 80th birthday for Smokey Robinson, one of the greatest singers, composers and producers of the second half of the twentieth century. William Robinson Jr. Was born in Detroit, Michigan, and when he was still a child he was nicknamed «Smokey Joe» by his uncle, as he was a fan of the westerns. in his teens, the nickname was reduced to «Smokey». In 1955, Robinson founded a band called The Five Chimes with his best friend Ronald White and with his high school classmates, Pete Moore, Clarence Dawson, Grice and James. In 1957, the band was renamed The Matadores and replaced Dawson and Grice with their cousins Emerson y Bobby Rogers. Emerson was later replaced by his sister Claudette Rogers, who later married Robinson. The Guitar player Marv Tarplin joined the group in 1958.
The Matadors began a tour around Detroit. In 1958, after a failed audition for Brunswick Records, Robinson met the composer Berry Gordy, at this moment, during the audition, Robinson had brought a «Big 10» notebook with 100 songs that he wrote while he was in high school. Gordy was very impressed with Robinson’s voice and even more with the compositions. Berry Gordy and Robinson began collaborating, wrote the single Got a job, in response to the success of The Silhouettes Get a job. The band changed its name to The Miracles, and published singles on two record labels, End Records and Chess Records. Shortly after, Robinson told Gordy that he should found his own record label.
In 1959, Gordy founded Tamla Records, which he later renamed as Motown. The Miracles were among the first groups that recorded for the label. Robinson provided some success for Motown and Gordy acted as his tutor for the budding singer and songwriter. In 1961, Gordy appointed as vice president of Motown Records, a title that Robinson held for as long as Gordy remained in the company.
In the late 60’s, the group recorded their first successful single, Shop Around, which became Motown’s hit record, obtaining million-dollar sales. Between 1960 and 1970, Robinson produced 26 hits with The Miracles, as a singer, songwriter and producer, including You Have Really Got a Hold on Me, Mickey’s Monkey, I Second That Emotion, Baby Baby Don’t Cry, The Tears of a Clown, Ooo Baby Baby, Going to a Go-Go, The Tracks of My Tears, etc… Most of these topics were in the top twenty of the lists. In 1965, The Miracles changed their name when they released their 1965 album Going to a Go-Go as Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.
Between 1962 and 1966, Robinson became one of Motown’s leading composers and producers, writing hits 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; Stillwater for The Four Tops; 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, among many others.