In this interview, 1987 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Smokey Robinson reflects on first time at the Apollo Theater and being inducted to the Hall of Fame. Don't miss the Rock Hall's Music Masters tribute concert to Smokey Robinson on Saturday, November 7, 2015.
Wow, to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was such a surprise to me, it was such an honor, such a joyful time for me.
I believe, if I'm not mistaken, I was inducted on the second induction [in 1987]. The first induction was Elvis Presley and, oh gosh, Little Richard [in 1986]. But I never thought that I would be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It just was something that I said, "Oh wow, this is great."
And they started the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And it's like a dream. It's like you have this thought that you'd like to be there. You'd love to be recognized like that. It's like when the Miracles and I first went to the Apollo Theater, ever. It was our first really professional date.
We had never really been too ...
Ask any Clevelander who heard Smokey Robinson perform here early on in his career, and they’ll likely tell you about Leo’s Casino.
Leo’s Casino, designated a historic rock and roll landmark by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, stood at 7500 Euclid Avenue on Cleveland’s east side. From the time it opened in 1963, Leo’s featured Motown artists on a regular basis. “It was a very important club to us,” Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr., told The Plain Dealer. The Supremes, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and – of course – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were among the acts that played there, often using the 700-seat, racially integrated venue to hone their acts.
Throughout the 1960s, the Miracles returned to Leo’s Casino at least once a year for a four-evening stint, performing as many as three shows each night. One of these performances was even filmed in 1966 for a nationally televised documentary on the Miracles. In addition to playing ...
"The Tears of a Clown," which is one of the biggest songs and the biggest records that I have ever been associated with as a record artist.
We used to have social gatherings. We had Christmas parties every Christmas. And like I said, all of the others are Motown were very, very, very close. One of my closest brothers is Stevie Wonder. I love Stevie Wonder, okay. And so Stevie came to me at a Christmas party, he said, "Smoke man, I got this track, man, that I've recorded here."
And he said: "It's a great track… but I can't think of a song to go with this track. … listen to this for me and see if you can come up with a song for it." So I said okay. So I took the track, and I took it home and I listened to it.
And when I first heard the track, the track that he gave me that night was complete. It's the one that's on the record. He had already recorded the track and did the music and all that. And so the first thing I hear is [the main theme] – so that ...
"It took an iconic radio station, WHK, and an anglophile disc jockey, Ron Britton, to bring what is arguably the most popular British rock group ever, the Beatles, to Cleveland, Ohio, the 'Home of Rock and Roll,'" says Lynn Jones, who was a young boy when the Fab Four made their concert debut in Cleveland. "On September 15, 1964, the Cleveland rock and roll world exploded, first on Public Square when thousands gathered to wave up to the Beatles and Ron Britton as they waved back from open windows… and then, 'The Concert.'"
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr stayed at the Sheraton-Cleveland, which was surrounded by a police cordon given the fan fervor. Cunning Cleveland police used a riot van traveling between the concert venue, Cleveland's Public Hall, as a decoy. Adoring Beatles fans eventually caught on to the fact that the Fab Four were not in the van, but the group still managed to escape undetected from inside the hotel not long before showtime.
"Sitting with the WHK station managers, Ron’s wife Peach, my wife Ann, and sister Kathy," remembers Jones, "we watched from 40 feet away as screaming girls and women rushed ...
Smokey Robinson is celebrated for two great and distinct contributions: his work as producer/composer and as a performer. Put these two elements together and you have the Smokey Robinson aesthetic, one of the most lyrical in the history of American pop music.
So, what is the Smokey Robinson aesthetic?
Its salient characteristics are sensitivity, sweetness and poetic invention. Both as writer and singer, Smokey is an unapologetic romantic, a man who trades in extravagant emotional expression. The signature Smokey sound carries a mesmerizing mixture of heartache and hunger, sensual pleasure and erotic longing.
Since he burst on the scene with his Miracles in 1957, he has elevated the art of R&B with a high soaring tenor that is an instrument of rare flexibility, a delicate reed of quiet beauty.
Looking back at his pre-teen work, Michael Jackson said: “Smokey was one of the artists who influenced me most deeply. I studied his singing group, the Miracles ...
On October 17, 2015, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland opens its latest exhibit, Graham Nash: Touching the Flame. Pieces from Nash's heroes and inspirations – the Beatles, the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Buddy Holly and Duane Allman – and treasures from his time with the Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash come to life as the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee reflects on the visceral and profound impact of the music and world events on him and those around him.
In this interview, Graham Nash shares the story of how he left the Hollies and followed his heart to form CSN.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: What were your feelings were about The Hollies and how you had changed over the years? What informed your decision to leave?
Graham Nash:One of them was that I didn't feel that they trusted my need for direction. Every Hollie single that we had made, apart from the first couple made it to the top 10, and that's where we were used to being. We'd bring out a single, it would go into the top 10, that's what we ...
In 1995, Hall of Fame Inductee Johnny Cash’s youngest daughter Tara gave her famous father a book – Dad, Share Your Life With Me by Kathleen Lashier – containing 365 questions. One year later, on her birthday, he returned the book to her with answers to all the questions.
"This book helps to really paint a picture of what life was like for my Dad, what his interests were, his family traditions, his feelings about so many things... this book is one of my personal treasures, and it gives me great pleasure to share it with his fans," explains Tara. "I was very proud of my father for not only what he accomplished, but who he was as a person and father."
Those questions and answers form the basis of Recollections, a new book based on the original Tara sent her father, though reformatted with personal notes and photos – a unique story in Cash's own handwriting.
"The main reason I wanted to share this book, is to let my father's fans see a more playful, fun and candid side of him," says Tara.
"I also wanted to give the public an inside look into another facet of my father ...
The California music scene took off during World War II when it became the home of some of the most prominent western swing bands, including Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys and Spade Cooley and his Orchestra. They played primarily to an Okie audience — men and women who had migrated from the southern plains to work in the wartime production plants in places like Los Angeles and San Diego.
A large number of those wartime workers were women, dancing to the music of Bob Wills and Spade Cooley. So how did female musicians really stake a claim in this scene? Enter Rose Maddox.
Rose Maddox, the lead singer of the Maddox Brothers and Rose, developed a unique singing style — a belting voice that could be heard in the raucous roadhouses and dancehalls of California. Her resonating chest voice clearly projected over the din of dancing, drinking and socializing. Patrons had to take notice.
The Maddoxes were part of the Okie migration, leaving the depressed South for California in the 1930s. They worked as farmhands in the Central Valley until they formed the band The Maddox Brothers and Rose in the late 1930s. They came to the forefront of California’s ...