William “Smokey” Robinson Jr. (born February 19, 1940) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and former record executive. Robinson was the founder and front man of the Motown vocal group the Miracles, for which he also served as the group’s chief songwriter and producer. Robinson led the group from its 1955 origins as the Five Chimes 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. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Robinson was awarded the 2016 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for his lifetime contributions to popular music.
Smokey Robinson 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. His uncle Claude gave him the nickname “Smokey Joe” when he was a child. He attended Northern High School, where he was above average academically and a keen athlete, though his main interest was music and he formed a doo-wop group named the Five Chimes. At one point, he and Diana Ross lived several houses from each other on Belmont; he once said he has known Ross since she was about eight