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 ...
The 30th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took place on April 18, 2015 at Cleveland's Public Hall and the exclusive HBO premiere broadcasts Saturday, May 30 at 8 pm ET!
Sneak peek of the HBO premiere:
Bill Withers Sings "Lean On Me" with Stevie Wonder and John Legend
Joan Jett Sings "Crimson and Clover" with Tommy James, Dave Grohl and Miley Cyrus
Double Trouble performs "Pride and Joy" with Jimmie Vaughan, John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr.and Doyle Bramhall II
Green Day performs "American Idiot"
The 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees are (click links for more Hall of Fame stories!):
Special presenters this year include Hall of Fame Inductees Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Steve Cropper and Patti Smith, as well as Peter Wolf, Fall Out Boy and John Mayer.
The star-studded performances this year include Beck, Dave Grohl, Hall of Fame Inductee Joe Walsh, Tom Morello, John Legend, Jimmie Vaughan and more!
2015 special marks the fourth year HBO has presented the Rock and Roll Hall of ...
Although he was being inducted for his incredible legacy of music, 76-year-old Bill Withers also provided among the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony's most endearing and humorous moments. "One other thing crossed my mind," he said accepting his award. "This has got to be the largest AA meeting in the western hemisphere." The thousands in attendance exploded in roars of laughter.
Stevie Wonder inducted Withers, lauding the accomplished musician for emotionally poignant and resonant songwriting, "songs that were for every single culture there is; everyone can relate, somewhere in the world."
The man behind classics such as "Lovely Day," "Use Me" and "Lean On Me," Withers provided a long list of thanks to the men and women who supported him throughout his career – including the radio DJs that played the flip side to his early single: "Ain't No Sunshine."
"Stevie Wonder inducting me in the Hall of Fame is like a lion opening the door for a kitty cat," joked Withers. "Stevie Wonder knows my name and the brother just put me ...
Over the course of two decades – from 1945 to 1965 – 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee the "5" Royales created a remarkable body of work that laid the foundation for a host of music that followed in its wake. With pivotal recordings and performing techniques that helped define a variety of styles under the rock and roll umbrella, the group is responsible for some of rock's first true standards. Here are my picks for essential listening.
“Bedside of a Neighbor” (1952)
The very first record by the “5” Royales was a variation of the Thomas Dorsey tune “(Standing By the) Bedside of a Neighbor.” It was recorded in August of 1951 and released on Apollo Records in January of 1952 under the name The Royal Sons Quintet. They put in a great vocal performance with the lead sung by John Tanner, but don’t miss the gospel piano played by the group’s friend Royal Abbit.
“Baby Don’t Do It” (1952)
While their contract with Apollo was to record gospel music, the group quickly began recording secular music as well; at first under the name the Royals, and then by the time of this hit song ...
When Percy Sledge first tried to make a record in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the white owner of the area’s first record label refused to work with him. Saying that he preferred to stick with white country and pop artists, the producer slammed the door in the young singer’s face. A few years later, Sledge was the area’s biggest star, with a Number One hit that defined “the Muscle Shoals sound” and helped launch one of the era’s most significant music scenes. Sledge’s spare, aching ballad – the still-iconic “When A Man Loves A Woman” – not only set a musical template for deep soul, but also reflected the unique musical alchemy that made Muscle Shoals and southern soul into an international symbol of cultural change.
Crucial to Sledge’s success, and that of Muscle Shoals soul, was his records’ mixture of black and white. He worked with a mostly-white group of young studio musicians, including producer Rick Hall and fellow Hall of Famer Spooner Oldham, who now embraced the chance to cut records with black artists. Additionally, Sledge was one of the great practitioners of the musical hybrid that became known, appropriately enough, as “country-soul.” Sledge’s ...
In a recording career that lasted only 15 years, but left a lasting legacy, 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Withers mastered the vocabularies of the acoustic singer-songwriter, R&B, disco and even mainstream jazz, while maintaining a distinctive personality as a composer and vocalist. Here are my picks for essential Bill Withers songs.
“Ain’t No Sunshine”
A breakthrough hit from Just As I Am (produced by Hall of Fame Inductee Booker T. Jones), “Ain’t No Sunshine” set the framework for the Bill Withers sound with its sparse arrangement, direct, no-frills lyric and in the pocket groove. It was also a bona fide hit, reaching Number Three on the Billboard 100 in 1971.
“I was one of those kids who was smaller than all the girls. I stuttered. I had asthma. So I had some issues," recalled Bill Withers. "My grandmother was that one person who would always say that I was going to be OK. … When you're a weaker kid, whoever champions you becomes very important to you." This song is a tribute to those healing hands.
“Who Is He (and What is He to You?)”
Just the right undertone ...
As part of the Rock Hall's Celebration Day, the Museum will screen the Bill Withers documentary, Still Bill, at 5pm ET. In this post, the film's co-director (along with Damani Baker) Alex Vlack, shares how he found Bill Withers, his hero, and transformed the experience into a movie.
Everyone who's ever turned on the radio, walked into a restaurant, been in a bar, lived in this country for more than a few days knows Bill Withers' biggest songs. But most people don't know his name, and most people don't know most of his music.
I didn't really discover it until college, when my friend Jon Fine turned me on to Still Bill, Withers' second record. We listened to it on cassette over and over and over. I'd grown up on blues and jazz and rock, and thought I was pretty well-versed – when you're 18 years old, you can think of yourself as a lot of things! – so how could an album like this have slipped past me? It was, simply, the best album I'd ever heard. Fine and I started a band, and one of the first things we did was ...
“Ain’t No Sunshine”
The song that set the framework for the Bill Withers sound with its sparse arrangement, direct, no-frills lyric and in-the-pocket groove.
“I was one of those kids who was smaller than all the girls. I stuttered. I had asthma. So I had some issues," recalled Bill Withers. "My grandmother was that one person who would always say that I was going to be OK. … When you're a weaker kid, whoever champions you becomes very important to you."
“Who Is He(and What is He to You?)”
Just the right undertone of menace and an unrelenting repeated funky riff drives this testament of a jealous lover home.
“Lean on Me”
Bill Withers’ first Number One hit took us to church. "It's a rural song that translates across demographic lines,” Withers recalled. “My experience was, there were people who were that way. They would help you out. Even in the rural South, there were people who would help you out even across racial lines. Somebody who would probably stand in a mob that might lynch you if you pissed them off, would help you out in another way."
“I Can’t Write ...