Cathrine Werth

Written by Cathrine Werth

Modified & Updated: 04 Mar 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


Smokey Robinson is a legendary figure in the world of music, known for his soulful voice, songwriting prowess, and undeniable talent as a performer. With a career spanning several decades, he has left an indelible mark on the music industry and continues to be celebrated as one of the greatest artists of all time. From his early days as a member of The Miracles to his successful solo career, Smokey Robinson has enchanted audiences with his smooth vocals and heartfelt lyrics. In this article, we will delve into 22 fascinating facts about the man behind the music, showcasing his life, accomplishments, and contributions to the world of entertainment.

Key Takeaways:

  • Smokey Robinson, the “Poet of Soul,” has left an indelible mark on the music industry with his timeless hits and philanthropic work, inspiring future generations of musicians.
  • From his early days with The Miracles to his solo career, Smokey Robinson’s soulful vocals and unwavering passion for music have solidified his place as a true musical icon, celebrated for his enduring talent and remarkable achievements.
Table of Contents

The Early Years

Smokey Robinson was born as William Robinson Jr. on February 19, 1940, in Detroit, Michigan.

Growing up in a musical family, Robinson formed his first vocal group, The Miracles, while still in high school.

The Rise to Stardom

In 1960, The Miracles released their first hit single, “Shop Around,” which became Motown Records’ first million-selling record.

With his distinctive falsetto voice and smooth vocal style, Smokey Robinson quickly became the group’s frontman and primary songwriter.

Motown Legend

As a songwriter and producer for Motown, Robinson penned numerous hit songs for various artists, including “My Girl” by The Temptations and “My Guy” by Mary Wells.

Robinson’s soulful compositions and poetic lyrics established him as one of the most influential songwriters of his time.

Unmatched Success

Smokey Robinson and The Miracles achieved 26 top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including classics like “The Tracks of My Tears” and “Tears of a Clown.

Their smooth harmonies and heartfelt performances captivated audiences around the world.

A Talented Multi-Instrumentalist

In addition to his exceptional singing and songwriting skills, Smokey Robinson is also proficient in playing multiple instruments, including the piano and the bass guitar.

His musical talent and versatility have contributed to his longevity in the music industry.

Influence on Future Generations

Smokey Robinson’s impact on popular music extends beyond his own era, and his style has influenced countless artists, including Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye.

His contributions have shaped the landscape of R&B and soul music.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Smokey Robinson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 as a member of The Miracles.

This recognition solidified his status as a musical pioneer and trailblazer.

A Successful Solo Career

After leaving The Miracles in 1972, Smokey Robinson embarked on a successful solo career, releasing hit songs such as “Cruisin'” and “Being with You.”

His silky vocals and romantic ballads made him a solo superstar.

A Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

In 1991, Smokey Robinson received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to the music industry.

This prestigious honor celebrated his enduring legacy as a true musical icon.

A Philanthropic Heart

Smokey Robinson has actively participated in charitable endeavors throughout his career, supporting causes like the fight against drug abuse and raising awareness for breast cancer.

His dedication to making a positive impact on society further highlights his admirable character.

The Poet of Soul

Smokey Robinson has been affectionately referred to as the “Poet of Soul” for his exceptional songwriting skills and ability to capture the essence of love and emotions through his music.

His heartfelt lyrics have resonated with audiences for generations.

A Distinguished Award

In 2016, Smokey Robinson received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, recognizing his immense contribution to American music.

This esteemed award solidified his place in music history.

A Versatile Collaborator

Smokey Robinson has collaborated with a wide range of artists across different genres, including Elton John, Aretha Franklin, and Celine Dion.

His ability to blend seamlessly with diverse musical talents showcases his adaptability and versatility.

Philanthropic Contributions

Through his involvement with the United Negro College Fund, Smokey Robinson has helped raise funds to provide scholarships and support educational opportunities for African American students.

His commitment to educational equality has made a lasting impact on the lives of many.

A Song That Defined Motown

Smokey Robinson’s iconic song “The Tracks of My Tears” is regarded as one of Motown’s greatest hits, showcasing his soulful vocals and poignant songwriting.

The song remains a timeless classic loved by generations.

Recognition from the Kennedy Center

In 2006, Smokey Robinson was honored with the Kennedy Center Honors for his contributions to the arts and culture.

This prestigious recognition acknowledged his influence on American music and his enduring impact.

A Literary Pursuit

Smokey Robinson released his autobiography, “Smokey: Inside My Life,” in 1989, providing fans with an intimate look into his life and career.

The book received critical acclaim and allowed readers to delve deeper into the man behind the music.

A Philosopher’s Perspective

Smokey Robinson once said, “You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.”

This quote reflects his unwavering belief in the power of dreams and the limitless potential within each individual.

A Timeless Performer

Even after decades in the music industry, Smokey Robinson continues to captivate audiences with his soulful performances and charismatic stage presence.

His live shows are a testament to his enduring talent and passion for music.

An Inspiration for Love Songs

Smokey Robinson’s romantic ballads, such as “Being with You” and “Ooh Baby Baby,” have made him a go-to artist for love-struck couples and wedding playlists.

His heartfelt lyrics and smooth vocals have made him a true icon of love songs.

A Musical Legacy

Smokey Robinson’s contributions to music have earned him numerous accolades and awards, cementing his place as a living legend.

His influence on popular music cannot be overstated.

The Voice of a Generation

Smokey Robinson’s soulful voice and timeless music have transcended generations, making him a beloved and respected figure in the music industry.

His talent and artistry continue to inspire and touch the hearts of millions.


Smokey Robinson is undeniably one of the most iconic figures in the music industry. His soulful voice, memorable lyrics, and timeless melodies have earned him a permanent place in the hearts of fans around the world. From his early beginnings as a member of The Miracles to his successful solo career, Smokey Robinson has cemented his status as a true musical legend.

Throughout his career, Robinson has achieved numerous accolades, including inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. His contributions to the Motown sound and his ability to captivate audiences with his heartfelt performances have made him a true icon.

With his remarkable talent, enduring presence, and impact on the music industry, it’s no wonder that Smokey Robinson’s legacy continues to thrive. His music continues to touch the hearts of millions, and his influence can be felt in the work of countless artists who have been inspired by his brilliance.

As we celebrate Smokey Robinson’s incredible career and contributions to music, it is clear that his impact will be felt for generations to come. His songs will continue to be cherished classics, and his name will forever be synonymous with greatness in the world of music.


Q: When did Smokey Robinson start his music career?

A: Smokey Robinson began his music career in the late 1950s as a member of the vocal group The Miracles.

Q: How many albums has Smokey Robinson released?

A: Smokey Robinson has released over 25 studio albums throughout his career.

Q: What are some of Smokey Robinson’s biggest hits?

A: Some of Smokey Robinson’s biggest hits include “Tears of a Clown,” “Tracks of My Tears,” and “Cruisin’.”

Q: Has Smokey Robinson won any awards?

A: Yes, Smokey Robinson has received numerous awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Kennedy Center Honors.

Q: Is Smokey Robinson still active in the music industry today?

A: Yes, Smokey Robinson continues to perform and release new music. He remains an influential figure in the industry.

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