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Smokey Robinson

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Smokey Robinson


William "Smokey" Robinson Jr. (b. 19 February 1940, Detroit, Mich.) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and former record executive.

Smokey Robinson was born to an African-American father and a mother of African-American and French ancestry. His ancestry is part Nigerian, Scandinavian, Portuguese, and Cherokee. His uncle Claude gave him the nickname "Smokey Joe" when he was a child. Robinson attended Northern High School, where he was above average academically and a keen athlete, though his main interest was music; he formed a high school doo-wop group named the Five Chimes.

Robinson said his interest in music started after hearing the groups Nolan Strong & the Diablos and Billy Ward and his Dominoes on the radio as a child. Robinson later listed Barrett Strong, a Detroit native, as a strong vocal influence. In 1955, he formed the first lineup of the Five Chimes with childhood friend Ronald White and classmate Pete Moore. Two years later they were renamed the Matadors and included Bobby Rogers. The group's guitarist, Marv Tarplin, joined them sometime in 1958. The Matadors began touring Detroit venues around this time. They later changed their name to the Miracles.

Robinson was the founder and frontman of the Miracles, for which he was also chief songwriter and producer. Robinson led the group from its 1955 origins 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.

Since 1990, Robinson has released a series of solo and duet albums, and made a series of guest television appearances. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and was awarded the 2016 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for his lifetime contributions to popular music.

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