Smokey Robinson was still a teenager when he started his first group in the mid-1950s. Six decades later, at the age of 75, he’s still going strong.
Here’s a brief profile on the Motown Records legend, who performs at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Thursday.
In the beginning: The singer was born William “Smokey” Robinson Jr. in Detroit on Feb. 19, 1940. He began singing at an early age and formed The Five Chimes in 1955 at age 15. The combo changed its name to the Matadors before finally settling on the Miracles. Between 1960 and 1970, the group scored more than 25 Top 40 hits.
The hit maker: The Miracles’ had Motown’s first No. 1 smash, “Shop Around.” Other Top 10 hits for the group include classics such as “Tears of a Clown,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “I Second That Emotion” and “Mickey’s Monkey.” Robinson wrote or co-wrote smash hits for Motown label mates, including “My Girl” by the Temptations, “Don’t Mess With Bill” by the Marvelettes and “My Guy” by Mary Wells.
The record executive: At age 23, Robinson was made vice president of Motown. He held that position for nearly two decades. He nurtured many rising acts during his tenure but considers his greatest signing to be The Supremes, a singing group started by his friend and neighbor Diana Ross.
Industry accolades: The Michigan native’s contribution to modern music hasn’t gone unnoticed. He has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the Grammy Living Legend Award, NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts Award from the President of the United States.
Songs with friends: Robinson’s latest album, “Smokey & Friends” (Verve Records), was released in September. For this project the singer delivered new duet versions of some of his best loved songs such as “The Tracks of My Tears” with Elton John, “Being With You” with Mary J. Blige, “Ain’t That Peculiar” with James Taylor, “Quiet Storm” with John Legend and “The Tears of a Clown” with Sheryl Crow.
R&B on the waves: Earlier this month, Robinson announced he’d be joining the O’Jays, the Whispers, Stephanie Mills, Billy Ocean and more than a dozen other acts for the Soul Train Cruise 2016. The seven-day luxury cruise makes stops at Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios, Jamaica and CocoCay, Bahamas.
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