2009-05-29 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

Smokey Robinson At Westbury

Live Nation proudly presents the "King of Motown" Smokey Robinson at the Capital One Bank Theatre at Westbury on Saturday, June 6 at 8 p.m.

Smokey Robinson was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. When he was a child, he was nicknamed "Smokey Joe" by an uncle because of his love of cowboy movies. In his teens, this was shortened to "Smokey." In 1955 Smokey created a group called the White Chimes with his best friend and classmates. Two years later, the group changed members and was renamed "The Matadors."

In 1957, the Matadors began touring the local Detroit venues. A year later Smokey met one of the most important figures in his life, songwriter Berry Gordy, who co-wrote the Matador's single "Got a Job." Soon after, the group renamed itself The Miracles. In 1959, Smokey convinced Gordy that he should start his own label and the legendary Motown Records was formed. Gordy acted as a mentor for the budding singer and songwriter and two years later, appointed Smokey as Vice President of Motown Records.

The Miracles may have been just one of many acts bridging the doo wop and early soul eras, but they were the only group to enter the Top 40 a staggering 25 times over the course of the decade. The 1960 single "Shop Around" was Motown's first number one hit on the R&B singles chart and the first big hit for The Miracles. The song was also Motown's first million-selling hit single.

The hits kept coming year after year with songs such as "Who's Loving You," "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," "Mickey's Monkey," "Ooo Baby Baby," "The Tracks of My Tears," "Going to a Go-Go," and the international number one smash hit, "The Tears of a Clown," just to name a few.

In addition to writing songs for The Miracles, Smokey also wrote and produced hits for many other Motown artists. He served as The Temptations' primary songwriter and producer from 1963 to 1966 and was the mastermind behind many classic songs such as "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "My Girl," "Since I Lost My Baby" and "Get Ready." He also wrote Mary Wells' hit "My Guy" in addition to several songs for The Four Tops and Marvin Gaye.

As both a member of The Miracles and as a solo artist, Smokey has recorded thirty-seven Top 40 hits for Motown between 1960 and 1987. During the course of his 50-year career in music, he has accumulated more than 4,000 songs to his credit and earned the title "America's poet laureate of love." He also achieved deep respect and admiration from many other artists, including John Lennon of The Beatles who stated in an interview that one of his favorite songs was The Miracles' "I've Been Good To You." George Harrison also greatly admired Smokey and paid tribute to him on his 1976 album Thirty-Three and 1/3 with the song "Pure Smokey."

Smokey still continues to perform and tour regularly. His rendition of the National Anthem before Game 5 of the 1986 World Series at Fenway Park is generally considered one of the greatest renditions of the Anthem at a sporting event ever.

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