Tunes Du Jour Presents Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson is one of the most influential and beloved figures in the history of American music. He is not only a legendary singer, songwriter, and producer, but also a humanitarian who has used his fame and fortune to support various causes.

William “Smokey” Robinson was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1940. He grew up in a musical environment, listening to the likes of Nolan Strong, Hank Ballard, and Jackie Wilson. He formed his first vocal group, the Five Chimes, while in high school, and later changed their name to the Miracles. He met Berry Gordy Jr., the founder of Motown Records, in 1957, and became one of his first artists and collaborators. He also suggested the name Motown, in honor of the Motor City.

The Miracles gave Motown its first number one hit with “Shop Around” in 1960, and went on to score many more classics, such as “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” “I Second That Emotion,” and “The Tears of a Clown.” Smokey Robinson was the lead singer and the main songwriter of the group, as well as a prolific producer for other Motown acts, such as Mary Wells, the Temptations, the Supremes, and the Marvelettes. He wrote and produced some of the most iconic songs of the Motown era, such as “My Guy,” “My Girl,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” and “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game.”

Smokey Robinson left the Miracles in 1972 to pursue a solo career, and continued to create hits, such as “Quiet Storm,” “Cruisin’”, “Being with You,” and “One Heartbeat.” He also became the vice president of Motown, and helped to nurture the careers of new artists, such as Lionel Richie, Rick James, and Teena Marie. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a solo artist and as a member of the Miracles. He also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, and a Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for his contributions to popular music.

Smokey Robinson has written and sung some of the most romantic songs ever. He has also shown his love for humanity by supporting various charities and causes, such as the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation, the Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation, UNICEF, and the United Negro College Fund. He has also invested in his hometown of Detroit by donating to the Motown Museum and supporting arts and music programs for young people.

Smokey Robinson is a living legend who has enriched our lives with his music and his love. He is a role model for aspiring artists and a source of inspiration for generations of fans. He is a treasure of American culture and a gift to the world. Let us celebrate his legacy by listening to thirty of his best songs as a vocalist, which are featured in the playlist below. Enjoy!

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 5-13-23

Learning that Jeff Beck was a fan of his, Stevie Wonder invited the guitarist to the studio to jam with him. Beck played on Stevie’s composition “Lookin’ For Another Pure Love,” recorded for what was to be Wonder’s next album, Talking Book. As a thank you, Wonder wrote a song for Beck to record: “Superstition.” Wonder told Beck he can release his version prior to Wonder’s version, which would appear on Talking Book.

Motown heard Stevie’s recording and knew it would be a hit single. Stevie wanted his song “Big Brother” to be the album’s first single, but he hadn’t finished recording it by the time Motown needed a 45 to release in advance of the full-length record. Stevie begged Motown to not put out a “Superstition” single, as he promised it to Beck, whose album release was delayed. Motown ignored their superstar’s pleas. The label released the single, and scored Stevie a number one single on the US pop and r&b charts.

Beck wasn’t too happy about that turn of events, though the two men eventually sorted things out, playing the song together at The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th-anniversary ceremony.

Stevie Wonder turns 73 today. He is well-represented on today’s playlist.

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