Born: February 19, 1940
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan
Zodiac Sign: Pisces
William "Smokey" Robinson Jr. is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and former record executive. Robinson was the founder and frontman of the Motown vocal group the Miracles, for which he was also chief songwriter and producer. Robinson led the group from its 1955 origins as "the Five Chimes" until 1972, when he announced a retirement from the group to focus on his role as Motown's vice president. However, Robinson returned to the music industry as a solo artist the following year. Following the sale of Motown Records in 1988, Robinson left the company in 1990.
Robinson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. That same year, he was awarded an individual star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was awarded the 2016 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for his lifetime contributions to popular music.
Smokey Robinson's single "Just to See Her"" from the One Heartbeat album was awarded the 1988 Grammy Award for Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. This was Robinson's first Grammy Award. One year later, in 1989, he was inducted to the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. In 1993, Robinson was awarded a medal at the National Medal of Arts. Two years before, he won the Heritage Award at the Soul Train Music Awards. In 2005, Smokey Robinson was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. At its 138th Commencement Convocation in May 2006, Howard University conferred on Robinson the degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa. In December 2006 Robinson was one of five Kennedy Center honorees, along with Dolly Parton, Zubin Mehta, Steven Spielberg and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
On March 20, 2009, the Miracles were finally honored as a group with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Smokey was present with original Miracles members Bobby Rogers, Pete Moore, (Bobby's cousin) Claudette Rogers, and Gloria White, accepting for her husband, the late Ronnie White, whose daughter Pamela and granddaughter Maya were there representing him as well. Smokey's replacement, 1970s Miracles lead singer Billy Griffin, was also honored.
Controversially, original Miracle Marv Tarplin was not honored, against the wishes of his fellow Miracles and the group's fans, who felt that he should have also been there to share the honor. Later, Tarplin did receive his star. He was also inducted with the rest of the original Miracles, Bobby Rogers, Pete Moore, Ronnie White, and Claudette Robinson, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, 25 years after Robinson's controversial solo induction in 1987. He was also awarded Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
In 2009, Smokey Robinson received an honorary doctorate degree – along with Linda Ronstadt – and gave a commencement speech at Berklee College of Music's commencement ceremony. In 2015, he was given a BET Lifetime Achievement Award.
Robinson was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
Robinson married his fellow Miracles member Claudette Rogers in 1959. The couple had two children, son Berry Robinson (born 1968), named after Motown's first label founder Berry Gordy, and daughter Tamla Robinson (born 1971), named after the original "Tamla" label set up by Gordy that would eventually become Motown. Robinson had another son, Trey (born 1984), with another woman, during his marriage to Claudette. After Robinson admitted this, he filed for legal separation and later divorce, which was granted in 1986. The Robinsons had separated once before, in 1974, and Robinson conducted an extramarital affair that became the concept of the song, "The Agony & The Ecstasy", later featured on A Quiet Storm.
Robinson is married to Frances Gladney, after they wed in May 2002. They own a home in Pittsburgh and currently use it as a winery.