Today in Music History: Smokey Robinson is 75

Smokey Robinson
Smokey Robinson (promotional photo)

History Highlight:

Smokey Robinson turns 75 today. Born William Robinson Jr. in 1940 in Detroit, Robinson was the founder and frontman of the Motown vocal group, the Miracles, who had a No. 1 hit in 1970 with "The Tears of a Clown." Robinson became the Vice President of Motown Records in 1972, but returned to performing in the late '70s and went on to chart the hits, "Cruisin'" (1979), "Being with You" (1981) and "Just to See Her" (1987). Robinson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1993. He was presented with the National Medal of Arts in 2002, and the Miracles were honored as a group with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2009.

Also, Today In:

1958 - Carl Perkins, whose rockabilly classic "Blue Suede Shoes" had been one of the biggest hits of 1957, followed the example of Elvis and Johnny Cash and split from Sun Records to sign with a major label. Perkins went with Columbia and released "Pink Pedal Pushers" two weeks later.

1964 - A British company shipped a half-ton of Beatle wigs to the United States. An American reporter later asked John Lennon, "How do you feel about teenagers imitating you with Beatle wigs?" John replied, "They're not imitating us, because we don't wear Beatle wigs."

1972 - Harry Nilsson started a four-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with his version of the Badfinger song "Without You."

1977 - Stevie Wonder won the Grammy for Album Of The Year for Songs In The Key Of Life.

1977 - Manfred Mann's Earth Band scored a No. 1 single in the U.S. with their cover of the Bruce Springsteen song, "Blinded By The Light." The track was the first single from Bruce Springsteen's 1973 debut album Greetings from Asbury Park N.J. Manfred Mann's version features several changed lyrics; most notably, Springsteen's "cut loose like a deuce" is replaced by "revved up like a deuce."

1982 - Ozzy Osbourne was arrested in San Antonio, Texas, for urinating on the Alamo.

1998 - The Stray Cats reunited for a single performance at L.A.'s House Of Blues to benefit the Carl Perkins Foundation.

2004 - Johnny Cash's family blocked an attempt by advertisers to use his hit song "Ring of Fire" to promote a hemorrhoid medication. Cash's daughter Rosanne said the family "would never allow the song to be demeaned like that."


Bobby Rogers, one of Smokey Robinson's fellow Miracles, also turns 75 today.

Dave Wakeling is 58.

Henry Samuel — better known as Seal — is 52.