Special feature by Jen Clark
We wrap up Black History Month 2021 with a salute to the one-and-only Smokey Robinson here on Throwback Nation Radio today, who still doesn’t look a day over 45. HOW?
William Robinson was born in Detroit in 1940 to a family with rich African American, French, Nigerian, Scandinavian, Portuguese, and Cherokee ancestry, which accounts for his piercing green eyes. As for the name “Smokey,” his dad’s friend (who he called his “uncle), called him “Smokey Joe” from a young age.
Robinson started a doo-wop group in high school called the Five Chimes and lived not far from Aretha Franklin’s house. The group’s name changed several times as they grew up and toured Detroit, and they ended up as the Miracles. They were one of the first groups to sign to Tamla Records, which would later be known as Motown. In the decade between 1960 and 1970, Robinson produced 26 top forty hits including, You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me and The Tears Of A Clown.
He retired for a year to focus on being the VP of Motown and came back in 1973 with a solo career and his debut album, Smokey. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and left Motown Records in 1990.
Smokey and his wife, Frances, have since started their own skincare line of products for men and women of color. He also boasts that he hasn’t eaten red meat in over 40 years and abstains from alcohol and smoking. He’s still performing and is scheduled to appear at the Toronto Jazz Festival in June.
A tip of the hat to the ever-youthful Smokey Robinson as we wrap up Black History Month on TNR! Enjoy a little Sunday CRUISIN’ music from Smokey today too.