Smokey Robinson : biography
William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr. (born February 19, 1940) is an American R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, and former record executive. Robinson was the founder and front man of the popular Motown vocal group The Miracles, for which he also served as the group’s chief songwriter and producer. Robinson led the group from its 1955 origins as The Five Chimes until 1972 when he announced a retirement from the stage to focus on his role as Motown’s vice president.
However, Robinson returned to the music industry as a solo artist the following year, later having solo hits such as "Baby That’s Backatcha", "A Quiet Storm", "The Agony and the Ecstasy", "Cruisin’", "Being With You" and "Just to See Her". Following the sale of Motown Records in 1988, Robinson left Motown in 1990. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Awards and accolades
Conductor [[Zubin Mehta laughs with singers Dolly Parton and Robinson during a reception for the Kennedy Center honorees in the East Room of the White House on Sunday, December 3, 2006.]] In 1987, Robinson was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Two years later, in 1989, he was inducted to the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. In 1993, Robinson was awarded a medal at the National Medal of Arts. Two years before, he won the Heritage Award at the Soul Train Music Awards. At its 138th Commencement Convocation in May 2006, Howard University conferred on Robinson the degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa. In December 2006 Robinson was one of five Kennedy Center honorees, along with Dolly Parton, Zubin Mehta, Steven Spielberg and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
On March 20, 2009, The Miracles were finally honored as a group with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Smokey was present with original Miracles members Bobby Rogers, Pete Moore, (Bobby’s cousin) Claudette Rogers, and Gloria White, accepting for her husband, the late Ronnie White, whose daughter Pamela and granddaughter Maya were there representing him as well. Smokey’s replacement, 1970s Miracles lead singer, Billy Griffin was also honored. Controversially, original Miracle Marv Tarplin was not honored, against the wishes of his fellow Miracles, and the group’s fans, who felt that he should have also been there to share the honor. However, later, Tarplin did receive his star. He was also finally inducted with the rest of the original Miracles,Bobby Rogers,Pete Moore, Ronnie White,and Claudette Robinson, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 20, 2012, some 26 years after Robinson’s controversial solo induction in 1987.
On May 9, 2009, Smokey Robinson received an honorary doctorate degree and gave a commencement speech at Berklee College of Music’s commencement ceremony.
Robinson married his fellow Miracles member Claudette Rogers in 1959. The couple had two children, daughter Tamla Robinson (b. 1969) and son Berry Robinson (b. 1968), named after Motown’s first label and Berry Gordy respectively. Robinson has another son, Trey (b. 1984), with another woman, during his marriage to Claudette. After Robinson admitted this, he filed for legal separation and, later, divorce, which was granted in 1986. The Robinsons had separated once before, in 1974, and Robinson conducted an extramarital affair that became the concept of the song, "The Agony & The Ecstasy", later featured on A Quiet Storm.
Until the late sixties, Robinson was teetotal, drug-free, a vegetarian and a self-described "health nut". However, by the time he was in his late twenties, Robinson began using marijuana. By the seventies, he was also dabbling in cocaine; however, Robinson said he only used it for recreation. By the early eighties, however, he had begun developing a cocaine addiction. Following the deaths of his father and close label mate Marvin Gaye, the demise of his marriage and his own career troubles, Robinson developed an addiction to crack.
Robinson got clean in 1986 after visiting a church under the advice of longtime friend Leon Kennedy. Robinson has said that since the church visit, he has been clean and sober. In 1989, Robinson wrote the memoirs, Inside My Life, in which he opened up about his drug use. In 2004, Robinson married his second wife, Frances Robinson. The couple currently lives in Los Angeles. That same year, his company, SFGL Foods, launched a gumbo brand called "Smokey Robinson’s The Soul is in the Bowl Gumbo", which was produced after the release of Robinson’s gospel album, "Food for the Spirit".