Smokey Robinson (February 19, 1940) is an American R&B and soul singer. Robinson was born in Detroit, Michigan, hometown of his future label, Motown Records.
Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr met William "Smokey" Robinson in the 1950s. The two had a synergistic relationship, with Robinson providing a foundation for Motown's hitmaking success and Gordy acting as a mentor for the budding singer and songwriter. Before Motown, Smokey Robinson and his back-up band, the Miracles, issued a few somewhat successful singles on End Records and Chess Records. "Shop Around" (Motown, 1960) was the group's first big success. This was followed by "Mickey's Monkey" (1963), "I Gotta Dance to Keep From Crying", "I Second That Emotion", "The Love I Saw In You Was Just a Mirage", "Ooo Baby Baby", "Baby, Baby Don't Cry", "The Tracks of My Tears" and "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" (1962). Legendary songwriter Bob Dylan described Robinson as "America's greatest living poet" during this period. Later, Mary Wells and the Temptations had great success with Robinson originals, "My Guy" and "My Girl", rspectively.
After marrying Claudette Rogers, a singer for the Miracles, Robinson started towards a solo career. Albums were released as Smokey Robinson & the Miracles after 1967. The group's career faltered somewhat during the 1970s, though hits such as "The Tears of a Clown" still did quite well. 1972 saw Robinson leave the group; the Miracles soldiered on for awhile, even having another hit with 1976's "Love Machine (Part 1)" but never managed to regain their former fame. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.
By this time, Robinson was a vice-president of Motown and he helped helm the label's shift towards an urban, contemporary soul sound. This genre is now called "Quiet Storm" after Robinson's biggest solo album, Quiet Storm. Though he has managed to maintain a career, Robinson has never managed to regain his former fame.