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Smokey Robinson on the Motown Family and "My Girl"

Season 5 Episode 502
Aired on 11/01/2015 | CC tv-14
In 1959, about a year after Smokey Robinson met Berry Gordy Jr. at an audition, Berry borrowed $800 from his family and founded Motown Records. Smokey's singing group, The Miracles, signed with the Detroit label and became part of the Motown family.

As a singer and a songwriter, Smokey says the collaborative, competitive environment Berry created helped spark creativity. "We had a policy at Motown, where as you never ever had a lock on an artist. All the producers and the writers could go to an artist with a song and say, 'Hey, do you like this song?'" Smokey says. "If the artist said yes, the producer or the writer was able to record that song."

In the early '60s, Smokey started working with the Temptations, whom he nicknamed the "five deacons" for their gospel sound. After hearing lead singer David Ruffin's soulful voice, Smokey wrote the smash hit "My Girl" with David in mind. "It turned out to be an incredible record, but if it wasn't for the Temptations, I probably would've never even written 'My Girl,'" he says. "They're the ones who brought it out of me."

In the above video, watch as Smokey shares why writing hits for other Motown artists brought him happiness.

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