Smokey Robinson, lead singer of The Miracles, announced that he was leaving the group today (July 16, 1972).
Smokey made the announcement during a stop at the Carter Barron Amphitheater in Washington DC during a performance.
Fans were not shocked, since the Washington DC date was part of a six-month tour, that The Miracles put on for the public.
The Miracles were also prepared for Smokey’s departure, as they discussed his leaving almost two years prior to the event actually happening.
Smokey was yearning to settle down, after a life on the road, in addition to years of composing songs for other artists on Motown, where he was also served vice president.
“We were always gone, man,” Smokey Robinson said in the book “Motown: The Golden Years.” “We were gone 90% of the time. In fact, we were gone so much at one point, by me being the vice president – see, I never really had a rest, cause I was always working with some other artists. When I came home, I had to go to the office. And then I was on the road 90% of the time.”
The Miracles started in 1955 in Detroit, when friends Smokey, Ronald White and Pete Moore teamed and formed
They added Bobby Rogers, Bobby’s sister Claudette Rogers and guitarist/songwriter Marv Tarplin.
In August 1958, Smokey Robinson met Berry Gordy, who is an aspiring songwriter, but disgruntled, because Brunswick Records had stiffed him out of royalties relating to tunes he’d authored for Jackie Wilson.
Smokey suggested that Berry, who was producing for the group at this point, start his own label.
The Miracles recorded a few sides for Chess Records before hitting it big with Berry Gordy, who eventually founded Tamla Records, the predecessor to Motown, in 1959.
It was Smokey Robinson and The Miracles that delivered the Tamla’s first hit, in the form of the song “Shop Around,” which was Motown’s first million-selling single.
As a songwriter, Smokey delivered top hits for a variety of acts on Motown, including The Supremes, The Temptations, The Marvelettes, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, and others.
By 1969, Smokey grew weary of his life on the road and wanted to concentrate on starting his family with group member/wife, Claudette.
“It was just a sad night, because I had been with those guys all my life.” Smokey said of his final performance with The Miracles. “It wasn’t that I regretted leaving. I’ve never regretted leaving.”
In total, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles released 15 albums on Motown, producing 26 top 40 hit singles.
Smokey recorded for Motown from 1959 until spending the years 1991, three years after Motown was sold.