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Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson is a famous American singer and songwriter, who had a successful career both as part of the group “The Miracles” and as a solo artist. He was born as William  Robinson, Jr. on February 19, 1940 to a poor family in Detroit. His mother died when he was very young so he was raised by his elder sister and her husband. He was an intelligent and active child who excelled academically and also played sports. However, from a very young age his real passion had been music. In high school he formed the band called the Five Chimes.

In 1955, Smokey formed a band initially called “The Matadors” along with his friends and classmates Ronald White, Pete Moore, Bobby Rogers and Claudette Rogers. After some changes to the line-up ,the group renamed itself “The Miracles” and began touring. In 1957, the band met Berry Gordy, the future CEO of Motown Records. Gordy was impressed with the band and particularly with Smokey’s vocals and songwriting skills. He offered the Miracles a record contract and their first single “Got A Job” was released in 1959. Robsinson briefly enrolled at college to study electrical engineering but dropped out after two months when his band released their first record. The Miracles became one of the first bands to be signed to Motown Records.

The band’s first hit single, which was also Motown’s first million selling record, was released in late 1960s and called “Shop Around”. Between 1960 and 1970, the group had 26 top 40 hit songs, all with Robinson as lead singer, chief songwriter and producer. The band later changed their name to “Smokey Robinson & The Miracles”. Robsinson was one of the most coveted songwriters and wrote several hits for artists such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Contours and Stevie Wonder. In all, he is credited with writing more than 4000 songs. He also served as the Vice President of Motown Records until 1988.

In 1972, Robinson left the band and spent a year in retirement. He had married his bandmate Claudette and wanted to help her raise their two

MLK at Stanford 1967 - The Other America

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