If William “Smokey” Robinson was known just for the songs he performed, he would be a memorable artist. But the fact that he has written over 400 songs, according to ASCAP, and probably hundreds more and is a producer as well, then you have a musical force.
The first song released by his group the Miracles was Got A Job, a response song to Get a Job by by the Silhouettes, written by Smokey, Berry Gordy and Roquel Davis.
Here are just a other few songs written or co-written by Smokey. The group listed usually is NOT the only artist who’s performed the tune:
You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me- the Beatles; also performed by the Miracles
My Girl-the Temptations
My Guy -Mary Wells; anyone who could write My Girl AND My Guy is the consummate songwriter
No More Tearstained Makeup – Martha & the Vandellas; a relatively obscure song with one of my favorite lines: No sponge has the power To absorb the shower Of what pancake and powder couldn’t cover
Who’s Loving You – Jackson 5ive. From the 1st J5 album, a cover of the Miracles tune. Isn’t Michael preturnaturally experienced in love in this tune?
Ain’t That Peculiar – Marvin Gaye
Tears of a Clown -the (English) Beat. But it was from the Miracles’ version that I first heard of Pagliachi, which led me to find out that the reference was to a Leoncavallo opera.
Don’t Mess with Bill – Marvellettes
The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game-Grace Jones, covering the Marvelettes’ tune
Get Ready -Rare Earth, a song I first heard from the Temptations
No More Water In The Well – the Temptations, with a relatively rare Paul Williams lead vocal, from arguably my favorite Temps LP, With A Lot O’ Soul, 1967.
Still Water (Peace) – Four Tops
Floy Joy – the Supremes
I suppose I should do a couple more Smokey songs. I pick the oft-covered Tracks of My Tears and I Second That Emotion.
So, happy 70th birthday to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters’ Hall of Fame inductee, as well as 2006 Kennedy Center honoree, Smokey Robinson!
1993 photo of Smokey from LIFE magazine, for non-commercial use