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Smokey Robinson and the Miracle of Salvation

By Stephen Hubbard and Scott Ross
The 700 Club Scott Ross (reporting): The name William Robinson may not ring a bell but the titles of his hit songs probably will. “Shop Around,” “Tracks of my Tears,” and “I Second that Emotion” were just the beginning for the man the world knows as “Smokey.”

Scott: Where’d this Smokey thing come from?

Smokey Robinson: I loved cowboys. My Uncle Claude used to take me to see cowboy movies. He had a cowboy name for me, which was “Smokey Joe.” So whenever anybody asked me what my name was, I told ‘em Smokey Joe!

Scott (reporting): Smokey Robinson grew up in Detroit. He was singing and composing almost from the day he was born.

Right after high school, he and his group “The Miracles” got some bad news at an audition, and it changed their lives forever.

Smokey: “You’re never gonna make it.” So we were totally dejected. In the meantime there’s this young guy that’s sitting over in the corner. He stops us and says, “Man, where’d you get those songs?”

I said, “I wrote ‘em, man.” He said, “You wrote all those songs?” We sang about five songs. I said, “Yeah.” He said, “A couple of ‘em I liked.”

He said, “What’s your name?” I said, “My name’s Smokey.” He said, “Well, I’m Berry Gordy.”

He said, “You got any more songs?” He never should’ve said that, man, because I had a loose-leaf notebook with about 100 songs in it. So I said, “Yeah, man.” He said, “I like your voice. Nobody sounds like you.”

About a year or so after that, we started Motown.

Scott: You guys started it together? Wow.

Smokey: I am so proud. That’s one of my proudest things in my life to have been there from the ground floor of Motown.

Motown grew to something beyond our wildest dreams.

Scott: What was your first big hit?

Smokey: “Shop Around” was the first big hit that we had at Motown, and it was our first million-seller.

I remember my first check that I got for a thousand dollars, and where I grew up, I never thought I’d have a thousand dollars at one time.

Scott: Did you have something spiritual in you going on back then?

Smokey: Since I was a little bitty boy, I’ve always felt like God was watching me, and I don’t know why. I guess because He was.

Scott: Did you have a head-on with the Lord Himself?

Smokey: I most certainly did. I hadn’t done any drugs or anything like that. I’m watching TV, and I hear a voice say to me, “Smokey, I want you to know more about Me. I want you to know my Son, and I want you tell your friends.”

Now I know that one of my friends is in the room and playing a joke on me. So I get up and look all around the room. I look up under the bed, in the closet, everywhere and nobody’s there.

I’m astounded by what has just happened to me, and I never tell a soul.

Scott (reporting): That is… until his best friend told him a similar story…

Smokey: He said, “I’m going to tell you this because I can’t tell anyone else. They’ll think I’m crazy… I heard this voice. It came to me and said, ‘Leon, I want you to know more about Me. I want you to know my Son, and I want you to tell your friends.’ Now can you imagine?

After I picked myself up off the floor, I told him, “Man, I’ve told no one, but that’s exactly what happened to me.” So at that point we went to accept Jesus.

Scott (reporting): Smokey and his friend turned to a Motown producer who was now a preacher.

Smokey: So we started to go to his Bible studies, and he gave us the sinner’s prayer. So we accepted Christ at his house. That’s how it started for me.

The one thing about God that’s so beautiful is He is omnipotent, and He is the Almighty. But He’s not a dictator.

So I figured I knew what I was doing, so He let me figure that.

Scott (reporting): But Smokey still had some things in his life he had to straighten out.

Smokey: I got curious; I started to delve into cocaine. I used to like to smoke weed. I would put it in my weed and smoke it like that. It got bad, and I went through that for two and half years.

Scott: How did you break it?

Smokey: I didn’t. God did. I had gone down to my last legs. I was stepping off a cliff.

I let myself deteriorate, so a friend of mine took me to a service where I was prayed for.

I was an addict, and when I came out, I was free. That was in May of 1986, and the only thing that I even associate myself with drugs now is when I speak against them.

Scott (reporting): Smokey is also speaking out about his faith with his first-ever gospel CD… Food for the Spirit.

Smokey: Those were declaration songs for the people who perhaps don’t know me and don’t know that I have this wonderful, wonderful relationship with Christ.

Scott (reporting): For someone right now who may be doing the things you were into, do they need to hear a voice?

Smokey: I hope that if they don’t hear His voice that they hear mine. I really do, because I’m not making this stuff up. I’m too God-fearing to play with God or to make up something like that.

I know the strength that Christ gives me. I know what He did for me. I know that He is my way out and my way in. He’s my way out of all this havoc and my way into paradise. He suffered for me and for everybody listening.

It’s so simple. God loves us so much. He tried a lot of things to get our attention. He tried a lot of things to get us back to Him. So He said, “I’ll tell you what. I’m going to make it real simple for you. I’m going to send my Son. He’s going to take on all your iniquities and all your sins. He’s gonna die in your place so you can have everlasting life. All you’ve got to do is accept that."

Want more? Watch Scott Ross' uncut interview with Smokey and go behind the scenes of Motown and his rise to fame.

Smokey Robinson's Miracle (part 1)

Smokey Robinson's Miracle (part 2)


Scott Ross welcomes your feedback.

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