On this day in 1940, William “Smokey” Robinson is born in Detroit.
As lead singer of the group the Miracles, he will record hits like “The Tears of a Clown” and “The Tracks of My Tears.
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As a producer and writer, he will lend his skills to Mary Wells’ “My Guy” and the Temptations’ “My Girl.”
In 1972, Robinson will become a solo artist and success will continue. He will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Ken Coleman, the author of On this Day: African-American Life in Detroit, is a native Detroiter and former news reporter. He served on the Detroit Charter Revision Commission. He lives in Detroit with his wife, Kim Trent, and their son, Jackson Coleman.