Category: smokey robinson

On this day in music history: August 10, 1979 …

On this day in music history: August 10, 1979 – “Cruisin’” by Smokey Robinson is released. Written by William “Smokey” Robinson and Marvin Tarplin, it is the eighteenth solo single for the R&B music icon from Detroit, MI. By the late 70’s, Smokey Robinson has experienced major ups and downs since departing The Miracles in 1972. He scores a major commercial and artistic triumph in 1975 with the album “A Quiet Storm”, and the R&B chart topper “Baby That’s Backatcha”. In spite of those successes, Robinson finds it difficult to maintain a consistent presence on the charts. Though revered as one the greatest R&B songwriters of all time, Smokey is struggling with writer’s block, and often has to rely on outside songwriters for material. While working on his ninth solo album “Where There’s Smoke…”, Robinson collaborates with his former Miracles band mate, guitarist Marv Tarplin. It is Tarplin that comes up with the signature guitar riff that inspires the song “Cruisin’”. The guitarist had given Smokey the music on a tape nearly five years before. Robinson takes it and plays it repeatedly, writing several song ideas to the track, with none of them making the grade. While driving down the Sunset Strip in L.A., the singer hears The Rascals’ classic “Groovin’”, which immediately inspires him to come up with the title “Cruisin’”. Smokey comes up with a melody and lyrics to go along with Tarplin’s music. The track is recorded at Motown Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA in early 1979, and is arranged by keyboardist Reginald “Sonny” Burke. When the album is released in May of 1979, Motown releases Robinson’s disco remake of “Get Ready”, a song he had penned for The Temptations thirteen years earlier. It is Smokey’s then eleven year old son Berry (named after Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr.), that suggests to his father that “Cruisin’” should be a single. Issued as the second single in August of 1979, it takes off quickly. Fans are immediately drawn to the songs’ sensual vibe, and it also becomes an anthem of low rider car culture. “Cruisin’” peaks at #4 on the R&B singles charts on November 3, 1979. Off the back of its R&B chart success, it crosses over to the Hot 100, also peaking at #4 on February 2, 1980. Robinson’s version also hits #1 in New Zealand, giving him one of his biggest solo hits, “Cruisin’” is later covered by D’Angelo (#10 R&B), Holly Cole, and Coolio. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow and singer Huey Lewis cover the song for the film “Duets” in 2000, hitting #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, as well as topping the charts in Australia and New Zealand.

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On this day in music history: May 24, 1975 – “…

On this day in music history: May 24, 1975 – “Baby That’s Backatcha” by Smokey Robinson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #26 on the Hot 100 on June 28, 1975. Written and produced by Smokey Robinson, it is the first solo chart topper for the Motown legend.  Following his departure from The Miracles three years earlier, the veteran singer, songwriter, and producer had struggled to establish an identity separate from his role as lead singer of his former group. His first two solo efforts, “Smokey” and “Pure Smokey” released in 1973 and 1974 fair alright on the R&B charts, but fail to make much of an impact anywhere else. One of the ways he evolves his sound is by singing in a lower register than his trademark falsetto tenor voice. Released as the first single from Robinson’s landmark solo album “A Quiet Storm”, it quickly takes hold on R&B radio and crossover to the pop 40 becoming his first solo single to reach that plateau.

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On this day in music history: April 4, 1981 – …

On this day in music history: April 4, 1981 – “Being With You” by Smokey Robinson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on May 23, 1981. Written by William “Smokey” Robinson, it is the biggest solo hit for the legendary singer, songwriter and producer from Detroit, MI. Following a period in the late 70’s when he finds it difficult to land a record on the charts, Smokey Robinson returns to his hit making stride at the turn of the decade with the album “Where There’s Smoke” and smash single “Cruisin’” (#4 R&B and Pop). With the follow up “Warm Thoughts” also performing well, Robinson begins work on his next album. During 1980, singer Kim Carnes scores her biggest solo hit at the time with a cover of The Miracles 1967 hit “More Love” (#10 Pop). Carnes’ version is produced by George Tobin, whom Robinson is working with on his album. Liking Kim’s interpretation of his song, he offers to write a new song for her next album. Smokey comes up with the romantic mid tempo “Being With You”, and plans to have her record it. But before he can give her the song, Carnes and Tobin have “creative differences”, and she leaves to record her next album “Mistaken Identity” with producer Val Garay. George tells Smokey that he should record “Being With You” himself, and the pair do just that. Quickly organizing a recording session, the basic track is cut at Tobin’s Studio Sound Recorders in North Hollywood, CA, and features Mike Piccirillo (guitar), Ed Greene (drums), Scott Edwards (bass), Bill Cuomo (keyboards) and Joel Peskin (saxophone). The background vocals are sung by Smokey, his wife Claudette, singer Robert John (“Sad Eyes”, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) and guitarist Piccirillo. Released as a single in January of 1981, “Being With You” very quickly becomes an R&B radio smash, then crosses over to the pop and Adult Contemporary charts. In a case of extreme irony, the song is held off the top of the Billboard pop singles chart by Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes”, which holds down the number one spot for nine non-consecutive weeks. Besides its major success in the US, “Being With You” becomes Smokey Robinson’s biggest solo hit internationally as well, topping the charts in the UK, New Zealand, and hitting the top five in several other countries. “Being With You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

twixnmix: The Temptations, The Miracles, Ste…

twixnmix:

The Temptations, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Martha and the Vandellas, and The Supremes at EMI Records in London, March 1965.

twixnmix: The Temptations, The Miracles, Ste…

twixnmix:

The Temptations, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Martha and the Vandellas, and The Supremes at EMI Records in London, March 1965.

On this day in music history: April 4, 1981 – …

On this day in music history: April 4, 1981 – “Being With You” by Smokey Robinson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on May 23, 1981. Written by William “Smokey” Robinson, it is the biggest solo hit for the legendary singer, songwriter and producer from Detroit, MI. Following a period in the late 70’s when he finds it difficult to land a record on the charts, Smokey Robinson returns to his hit making stride at the turn of the decade with the album “Where There’s Smoke” and smash single “Cruisin’” (#4 R&B and Pop). With the follow up “Warm Thoughts” also performing well, Robinson begins work on his next album. During 1980, singer Kim Carnes scores her biggest solo hit at the time with a cover of The Miracles 1967 hit “More Love” (#10 Pop). Carnes’ version is produced by George Tobin, whom Robinson is working with on his album. Liking Kim’s interpretation of his song, he offers to write a new song for her next album. Smokey comes up with the romantic mid tempo “Being With You”, and plans to have her record it. But before he can give her the song, Carnes and Tobin have “creative differences”, and she leaves to record her next album “Mistaken Identity” with producer Val Garay. George tells Smokey that he should record “Being With You” himself, and the pair do just that. Quickly organizing a recording session, the basic track is cut at Tobin’s Studio Sound Recorders in North Hollywood, CA, and features Mike Piccirillo (guitar), Ed Greene (drums), Scott Edwards (bass), Bill Cuomo (keyboards) and Joel Peskin (saxophone). The background vocals are sung by Smokey, his wife Claudette, singer Robert John (“Sad Eyes”, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) and guitarist Piccirillo. Released as a single in January of 1981, “Being With You” very quickly becomes an R&B radio smash, then crosses over to the pop and Adult Contemporary charts. In a case of extreme irony, the song is held off the top of the Billboard pop singles chart by Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes”, which holds down the number one spot for nine non-consecutive weeks. Besides its major success in the US, “Being With You” becomes Smokey Robinson’s biggest solo hit internationally as well, topping the charts in the UK, New Zealand, and hitting the top five in several other countries. “Being With You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Born on this day: February 19, 1940 – Legendar…

Born on this day: February 19, 1940 – Legendary singer, songwriter, and producer William “Smokey” Robinson (born William Robinson, Jr. in Detroit, MI). Happy 78th Birthday, Smokey!!

The Supremes, the Miracles, the Temptations, S…

The Supremes, the Miracles, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder and Martha and the Vandellas arrive in London for the Tamla-Motown Revue tour of the UK, March 1965.

The tour was an important milestone in Motown’s international expansion. Starting at the Astoria, Finsbury Park, the tour proceeded to 20 other venues in 21 days, including the Wigan ABC, Newcastle City Hall and the Odeon, Glasgow. Two performances a night were scheduled; ticket sales outside London were so poor that Georgie Fame was added to the bill in an attempt to broaden the show’s appeal.

Smokey Robinson with Tammi Terrell

Smokey Robinson with Tammi Terrell

The Temptations, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder…

The Temptations, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Martha and the Vandellas, and The Supremes at EMI Records in London, March 1965.