Last night legendary singer-songwriter and producer Smokey Robinson received the Lifetime Achievement honor at the BET Awards 2015, and with a career that has spanned six decades, no one is more deserving. In the 1950s, the Detroit native formed the Five Chimes, which would eventually become the world-famous group The Miracles. After a failed audition with Brunswick Records, the group started working with songwriter Berry Gordy, who helped to produce some of their first records before establishing Tamla Records-which would later become Motown-in 1959 and signing The Miracles as its first act.
The group scored their first big hit in 1960 with “Shop Around,” and would continue to create numerous hits including “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” “I Second That Emotion,” and “Ooo Baby Baby.” But aside from singing, Robinson also worked behind the scenes, composing and producing some of Motown’s biggest hits, including “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” “My Girl,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” and “Get Ready” for The Temptations, “When I’m Gone” and “Operator” for Brenda Holloway, “My Guy” and “You Beat Me to the Punch” for Mary Wells, and “Who’s Loving You” for The Jackson 5. To put it simply, Robinson helped mold the iconic, soulful, sound of Motown Records. In 1972, Robinson went solo, releasing successful albums such as A Quiet Storm (1974) and Touch the Sky (1983), and in 1987 he his first Grammy Award as a solo artist for Best R&B Vocal Performance for “Just To See Her.”
With over 4,000 songs to his credit, Robinson list of accolades is endless, including a Grammy Living Legend Award, an induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, the NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Arts Award from the President of the United States, and now BET’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
But aside from being a major force in Motown and racking up awards, Smokey has influenced generations of recording artists, rappers included. In honor of his Lifetime Achievement Award, here are our favorite songs that sample Robinson himself.