Tears of a Clown: The Smokey Robinson Story

Feb 19, 2018

Airs Monday, February 19, 2018, at 9 p.m. The story of Smokey Robinson is actually the story of Motown. In this 2-hour music special we learn that Smokey was from the start, the creative backbone of the Motown operation.

Robinson is one of the most prolific American popular songwriters of all time. He was Berry Gordy's number two person. And his ability to write hit songs had everything to do with Motown becoming a music powerhouse.

The music in "Tears of a Clown" is straight out of the Motown vault. Smokey worked with, wrote songs for and produced most of the Motown talent; The Temptations, the Supremes, the Marvelettes, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, Marvin Gay... And of course, his group, the Miracles. This is a story about music and the music business, but it's much more. It's also about how two black men in the 1960's created a shared artistic vision that captured the imagination of American popular music for over a decade. Not to mention, they brought so many other young artists along with them.

"Tears of a Clown" includes lots of voice and music clips of Motown alumnae and Smokey himself. And Berry Gordy is eager to talk about his relationship with the man he named Vice President of the Motown. London-based vocalist Lulu, ("To Sir With Love") is the narrator.

In "Tears of a Clown", the essence of Smokey Robinson's personality comes through. We understand how his humility, collegiality and staggering creativity really helped to sustain a music empire.