Smokey Robinson

Founding member of the The Miracles dies

The Miracles

Photo: Motown Records

Bobby Rogers, one of the founding members of Motown group The Miracles died today at the age of 73.

Rogers formed the group in the mid-fifties with his cousin Claudette Rogers, Pete Moore, Ronnie White and Smokey Robinson. They went on to produce such hits as “I Second That Emotion” and “The Tears of a Clown.”

The Miracles and Rogers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just last year.

Rogers went on to collaborate with Robinson on a number of hit including The Temptations’ hit “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” and The Miracles’ “Going to a Go-Go.”

The Miracles was the first act to sign with Motown Records back in 1956, going on to become the first group to sell over a million albums.

Rogers first marriage was to Wanda Young, the lead singer of The Marvelettes. They went on to have several children together, divorcing in 1975. In 1981 he married Joan Hughes with the wedding ceremony officiated by Aretha Franklin’s older brother Cecil. The wedding was held at Detroit’s historic New Bethel Baptist Church. Protection Status

A look back at African-American music

In honor of Black History Month here is a look back at the history of African-American music and how it has influenced musicians today, including some photos of today’s top musicians.

African-American music is a term covering a diverse range of music and musical genres largely developed by black Americans. Jazz, blues, gospel, soul, and more recently rap constitute the principal genres of African-American music.

Their origins arose out of slavery characterizing the lives of black Americans prior to the American Civil War. The earliest forms of African-American music originated from those experiences with field hollers, work songs, improvisation, and blues notes.

Following the Civil War, black musicians began playing European music in military bands, developing new musical styles such as ragtime, which later transformed into jazz. Jazz has been one of the most influential styles in music to date, with a wide-ranging and profound influence over the development of music around the world. The earliest jazz greats included Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington.

The ‘50s saw a harder blues sound and the introduction of doo-wop. Berry Gordy founded Motown records in 1959 which catapulted black music to the forefront of the American music scene. In the ‘60s Motown introduced acts such as The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, and The Supremes.

The ‘70s saw an explosion of black artists in the music world with The Jackson 5, Roberta Flack, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, The O’Jays, and Gladys Knight & the Pip, all tearing up the music charts. As music evolved in the ‘70s hip-hop was born and made popular through artists like Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC, while George Clinton and Sly and the Family Stone introduced the world to some funky music.

Throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s, and today the African-American community of musicians grew with big names such as Michael Jackson, Prince, and Lionel Richie. During the ‘80s there was a wave of black female artists with Tina Turner, Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston leading the way for future artists like Beyonce.

African-American music has had a profound influence on all genres of music through the years and will continue to evolve and influence generations of musicians for years to come.

Concert Photography

Smokey Robinson
Smokey Robinson was instrumental in the founding of Motown with Berry Gordy in 1959 and one of the most influential artists of his time. Smokey Robinson and The Miracles was the first act to sign on with Motown Records.

Robinson has over 4,000 songs to his credit and has been performing for over 50 years. He’s responsible for such hits as “Second that Emotion,” “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Ooh Baby Baby,” “Tears of a Clown” and “Tracks of My Tears.”

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George ClintonGeorge Clinton
George Clinton is considered to be one of the most sampled musicians ever, and is one of the artists responsible for bringing the funky to funky music with his band the Parliament-Funkadelics. Dominating in the ‘70s with over 40 R&B hit singles, including three number ones and three platinum albums.

Clinton is also a notable music producer working on almost all of the albums he performs on, as well as producing albums for Bootsy Collins and Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others.

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Mary Davis with SOS - Click for more images

Mary Davis with SOS – Click for more images

SOS Band
The Sounds of Success band, better known as SOS is fronted by Mary Davis. They were initially famous for the hit “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” in 1980. They had a string of R&B hits including “Just Be Good to Me,” “Tell Me If You Still Care,” “Borrowed Love,” “No One’s Gonna Love You,” “Just the Way You Like It” and “The Finest.”

SOS still tours today with founding members Mary Davis and Abdul Ra’oof. They are scheduled to perform on the BET Honor’s show scheduled for February 11, 2013. You can get a sneak preview of their performance here.

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Kool and the Gang - Click for more images

Kool and the Gang – Click for more images


Kool & the Gang
Kool & the Gang started out as a jazz band, but through the years transformed themselves into one of the leaders in R&B and funk. Arguably their greatest albums were “Light of Worlds” and “Spirit of the Boogie” released in 1974 and 1975 respectively.

Kool & the Gang is responsible for such hits as “Joanna,” “Get Down on It,” “Ladies Night” and probably their most memorable and often played hit “Celebration.”

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Kurtis Blow - Click for more images

Kurtis Blow – Click for more images


Kurtis Blow
Leading the way for the rappers of today Kurtis Blow was the first rapper to ever be signed by a major label and is responsible for a number of hits by The Fat Boys and Run DMC. A few of his hits include “If I Ruled the World,” “Christmas Rappin’” and “The Breaks.”

Kurtis is a fully ordained minister and was an active participant in the Artists Against Apartheid record “Sun City”. He’s worked with Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Operation Push and the Rainbow Coalition in Chicago.

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Morris Day - Click for more images

Morris Day – Click for more images

Morris Day
Morris Day started out in a band with classmate Prince, who, as everyone knows, left the band to pursue his own style of music. The Time, as the band was known didn’t do much in their early years. It wasn’t until the ‘80s when Day worked with Prince on the movie “Purple Rain.” Eventually The Time was billed as Morris Day and The Time.

Day played the antagonist to Prince in his feature films “Purple Rain” and “Graffiti Bridge,” helping establish Day’s playboy stage presence. He was typically escorted by his valet, “Jerome” (Jerome Benton), winning fans with his exaggerated vanity as he would yell “Jerome bring me my mirror!” This persona was exploited for comic effect on The Time’s records, on songs such as “Chili Sauce” and “If the Kid Can’t Make You Come” from the album Ice Cream Castle.

His greatest and most memorable hit was “Jungle Love.”

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Brian McKnight - Click for more images

Brian McKnight – Click for more images

Brian McKnight
The multi-talented Brian McKnight is a singer-songwriter, arranger, producer, and R&B musician. He is also a multi-instrumentalist and can play eight instruments including piano, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, trombone, tuba, flugelhorn and trumpet.

McKnight signed on to Mercury Records and in 1992 released his self-titled debut album which peaked at 58 in the Billboard 200 chart. The album featured the ballad “One Last Cry”. He followed up with two more albums for Mercury with “I Remember You” and “Anytime”. “Anytime” sold over two million copies and was nominated for a Grammy.

When McKnight signed on to the Motown label he released his best-selling and most memorable album “Back at One.”

McKnight has the dubious distinction for a record 16 Grammy nominations without one win.

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Travie McCoy of Gym Class Heroes - Click for more imagesGym Class Heroes
Gym Class Heroes formed in 1997 when Travie McCoy met drummer Matt McGinley during their high school gym class. The band’s style includes hip hop, rock, funk, and reggae infused with rap. Their debut album “The Papercut Chronicles” gained the band a strong fan base as they toured promoting the album at festivals such as The Bamboozle and Warped Tour.

Their album “As Cruel as School Children” spawned their hit singles “Cupid’s Chokehold,” reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and “Clothes Off!!” peaking at No. 5 in the United Kingdom.

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Lil Wayne - Click for more imagesLil Wayne
Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. better known as Lil Wayne is a hip-hop artist and in 1991, at the age of nine, joined Cash Money Records as the youngest member of the label, and half of the duo, The B.G.’z, with fellow New Orleans-based rapper B.G.

Wayne’s debut studio album, “Tha Block Is Hot” was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). His next albums, “Lights Out” and “500 Degreez”, were certified Gold.

In 2004 Wayne released the album “Tha Carter” which included the single “Go D.J.” which saw a surge in Wayne’s popularity. Continuing the success of “Tha Carter,” he released “Tha Carter II” in 2005.

“Tha Carter III” which was released in 2008 saw over one million copies sold in the first week, becoming Wayne’s most successful album to date. It included the number-one single “Lollipop”, as well as “A Milli” and “Got Money”, and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.

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Rick Ross - Click for more images

Rick Ross – Click for more images


Rick Ro$$
William Leonard Roberts II, better known as Rick Ross, and sometimes referred to as Ricky Rozay, is one of the more controversial rappers of our time. He founded the record label Maybach Music Group (MMG), on which he released his studio albums “Deeper Than Rap,” “Teflon Don” and “God Forgives, I Don’t.”

In recent news Ross canceled the last leg of his tour (Dec. 2012), citing several reasons as to the cause of the cancelation, including lack of organization on the part of the promoter, and death threats. Gangster Disciples, a street gang that originated from the Chicago area, has been battling with Ross for some time and they’ve posted YouTube videos threatening the rapper.

In January of 2013 Ross crashed his Rolls Royce into a store after several shots were fired at his vehicle. No arrests have been made and no one was hurt in the drive-by.

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Smokey Robinson

Concert Photography

Smokey Robinson – Click for more images

Over 4,500 fans braved the 100 plus temperatures to see the legendary Smokey Robinson at Thunder Valley Casino Resort‘s outdoor amphitheater Saturday night ““ you could say it was a smoking show due to the heat, but that would be a lame joke.

Despite the heat, the 72 year old Motown legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee arrived on stage decked out in a white suit and tie, as the audience jumped to their feet welcoming Robinson to Thunder Valley Casino.

Robinson, known for his high tenor voice, has accumulated more than 4,000 songs to his credit, so his set-list for the evening was anyone’s guess.

Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson

He kicked it off with “Going to a Go Go” and “Second that Emotion,” both hits made famous by the Miracles in the mid-sixties, with Robinson as lead singer.

The audience was in full participation mode as fans sang along with songs like “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Ooh Baby Baby,” “Tears of a Clown,” and “Tracks of My Tears.”

After hearing the audiences response as he finished singing “Ooh Baby Baby,” he said he probably should have started the show with that one.

Gratuitous dancing hotty

Throwing a bit of local humor into the show Robinson said he really appreciated everyone taking the time to come out and see him, especially in a town like Lincoln, where there’s so much to do on a Saturday.

Robinson talked about a show called the Motown Review, where you could see the likes of The Temptations, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and others, all for a $1.60. This lead into a medley of Temptation hits.

At one point he brought audience members Lisa and Porsche onto the stage and assigned sections of the audience to each one. The goal ““ Cheer their section on to be the loudest. I believe Porsche’s group was the clear winner, but I’m sure Lisa would have something to say about that.

Robinson is a true entertainer and after over 50 years of performing he still knows how to put on a great show and keep the audience entertained. It was a smoking good show ““ I just had to.

Checkout the remaining outdoor concerts at Thunder Valley Casino. Next weekend is ZZ Top and Diana Krall.

Motown comes to Thunder Valley

Armed with 20 vocalists, six band members and four crew members impersonating the legends of Motown, RPM Crown Productions brought theirHitsville USA Legends of Motown Tribute Show to Thunder Valley Casino Resort on Saturday.

There was a sold-out crowd of diehard Motown fans there to enjoy some of the greatest hits from the Motown era. It was perplexing that more people weren’t up on their feet during some of the performances. However, after each performer finished their set they were met with more than a few people giving them a standing ovation.

The all-star lineup included acts such as The Four Tops, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and even a brief break from Motown for a little bit of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”

With the plethora of tribute shows currently playing across the country, it’s refreshing to see a solid lineup of talented individuals bringing not just one, but nine legendary acts to the stage in one spectacular show.

I was worried that with so many acts playing on one stage we’d be there all night slogging through hit after hit. That wasn’t the case. Each act played full versions as well as shortened versions of their respective hit songs, keeping the show moving at a pretty good clip.

Nick Harper

Emceeing the event was Nick Harper, a radio personality from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. As he introduced each act he provided a brief history and highlighted some of their hits.

Kicking off the show was The Four Tops. Decked out in white suits and moving in perfect harmony, they sang their hits, “Sugar Pie Honeybunch,” “Standing in the Shadow of Love” and “Ain’t No Woman Like the One I Got.”

Following The Four Tops were The Supremes in evening dresses singing, “Just Keep Me Hanging On,” “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Love Child.”

Al Green was handing out roses to a number of the female audience members as he sang,  “I’m so Tired of Being Alone,” “Let’s Stay Together,” and “Love and Happiness.”

And so it went throughout the evening as nine artists entertained the crowd bringing hit after hit.

Don’t miss the next tribute show at Thunder Valley Casino Resort, the Legends of Soul Tribute Show. These shows sell out fast, so get your tickets ahead of time.

Producer: Rudolph Peters

Band members: Richard Cravalho (Lead Guitar) ,Rich Aguon (Drummer), Darrel Broadnax (Bass Guitar), Archie White (Keyboard Left),  Earnest Nation (Keyboard Right), and Glen Astine (Congo).

Below is a complete list of artists and the songs performed.

The Four Tops
(lead singer – Marion Brewer, James Hill, David Lige, and Lionel Burns)

“I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”
“Standing in the Shadows of Love”
“Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got)”

The Four Tops

 The Supremes
(lead singer – Regina Wood, Tracy James, and Dewanna Slaughter)

“You Keep Me Hangin’ On”
“You Can’t Hurry Love”
“Love Child”

The Supremes – Click for more images

Al Green (John Hampton)
“Tired of Being Alone”
“Let’s Stay Together”

Al Green – Click for more images

Smokey Robinson (Lionel Burns)
“More Love”
“Ooo Baby Baby”
“Tears of a Clown”

Smokey Robinson -Click for more images

The Spinners
(lead singer – Charles Boomer, Lionel Burns, David Lige, Rodney James, and James Hill)

Intro to “I’ll Be Around”
“Ghetto Child”
“Rubberband Man”

The Spinners – Click for more images

Chaka Khan
(lead singer – Denise Robinson, Tracy James, Tammy Holloway, and Regina Wood)

“Sweet Thing”
“I’m Every Woman”

Chaka Khan – Click for more images

Richard Cravalho (lead guitar)
“Purple Rain”

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 Gladys Knight and the Pips
(lead singer – Dewanna Slaughter, Rodney James, David Lige, and Elijah Sterling)

Intro to “Use My Imagination”
“Save the Overtime”
“You’re Number One (in My Book)”
“Midnight Train to Georgia”
“Neither One of Us”

Gladys Knight

Stevie Wonder (John Hampton)
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”
“My Cherie Amour”
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life”

Stevie Wonder – Click for more images

The Temptations
(Carl Douglas, Stan Lockwood, Chase Ruffin, Elijah Sterling, and Douglas Stepney)

“Getting Ready”
“I Can’t Get Next to You”
“Cloud Nine”
“Don’t Let the Joneses Get You Down”
Intro to “Super Star”
The Temptations


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