Smokey Robinson facts: Songs, age, children and how he got his 'Smokey' nickname

31 August 2018, 16:38

Smokey Robinson
Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Smokey Robinson is one of the most iconic soul singers of all time.

From his Motown days with The Miracles to his successful solo career, he was a truly gifted singer-songwriter.

Here are the important facts about Smokey Robinson that any fan should know.

  1. Smokey Robinson songs: What are his most famous hits?

    With The Miracles, Smokey had many hits including 'Shop Around', 'You've Really Got a Hold On Me', 'The Tracks of My Tears', 'I Second That Emotion' and 'The Tears of a Clown'.

    As a solo artist, his hits have included 'Cruisin'', 'Being With You' and 'Just to See Her'.

  2. Smokey Robinson age: How old is he?

    Smokey Robinson
    Picture: Getty

    Smokey Robinson was born on February 19, 1940. He celebrated his 78th birthday in 2018.

    He was born to an African-American father and a mother of African-American and French ancestry, into a poor family in the North End area of Detroit.

    He and Aretha Franklin lived several houses from each other on Belmont at one stage, and has said he had known the Queen of Soul since she was about five.

  3. Smokey Robinson family: Is he married and does he have any children?

    Smokey Robinson and wife Frances
    Smokey Robinson and wife Frances. Picture: Getty

    Smokey is currently married to Frances Robinson, née Gladney. They got married in May 2002.

    He was previously married to his fellow Miracles member Claudette Rogers in 1959. The couple had two children, son Berry Robinson (born 1968), named after Motown's founder Berry Gordy, and daughter Tamla Robinson (born 1969), named after the original Tamla label set up by Gordy.

    Smokey had another son, Trey (born 1984), with another woman, during his marriage to Claudette. After he admitted this, he filed for a divorce, which was granted in 1986.

  4. How did he get his 'Smokey' nickname?

    Smokey Robinson explained in 2012: "My Uncle Claude was my favourite uncle, he was also my godfather. He and I were really, really close.

    "He used to take me to see cowboy movies all the time when I was a little boy because I loved cowboy movies. He got a cowboy name for me, which was Smokey Joe.

    "So from the time I was three years old if people asked me what my name was I didn't tell them my name was William, I told them my name was Smokey Joe. That's what everyone called me until I was about 12 and then I dropped the Joe part.

    "I've heard that story about him giving it to me because I'm a light skinned Black man but that's not true."