William “Smokey” Robinson Jr., iconic Motown musician has seemingly done it all throughout his musical career. But, he’s not finished.
He recently opened up to ET about the items that remain on his bucket list, which includes a potential to step into the film or playwright industry.
“If there’s anything left on my bucket list, it would be that I would like to make a movie,” he said, “a good movie…I’d like to be in a really good movie and be a character.”
He also detailed the possibility of a Broadway show or film being made about himself.
“I might as well be candid,” he said of the subject material that would be involved in his own biopic. “I don’t want to sugarcoat it…There’s going to be my ups and my downs, and my positives and my negatives, and all that has to be included, if it’s going to be real. I want it to be real, so people can get a good feeling of what my life has been and what it’s like.”
His incredible career definitely has the potential to be a great movie or play, having strived in the heyday of Motown records and his contributions to and influence on Black music.
“It was the gathering place, man,” he said of the Motown recording studio. “Hitsville was our gathering place. It was the place that you went to first when you got back in town…Everybody’s over there. It was our hanging place. It wasn’t just our workplace where we went and we recorded records and we did work-related stuff…it was our hanging place.
“It was unique. The studio was going 24/7, man,” he continued. “We have so many artists and so many producers and writers and people like that. It was just energy. I describe it as being energy. It was just energetic, where everybody at all times…believes the legacy of Hitsville is a once-in-a-lifetime musical event. Nothing like that had happened before then, and I doubt seriously if it will ever happen again.”
Huge names like Martin Luther King Jr. and Stevie Wonder have played a part in Smokey’s career and the entirety of Motown Records.
“We were coming into our heyday during the height of the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King came to Motown,” he recalled. “He was getting ready to do his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. He came and he said… ‘You guys are doing with music what…I’m trying to get across to people, to do legally and spiritually.’”
“I’m very, very proud of…what Motown accomplished around the world,” he added. “We’re breaking down all kinds of barriers with music. That’s one of my proudest achievements.”
Part of those achievements was with jazz and soul entrepreneur and Black activist, Stevie Wonder. He met the talented blind jazz pianist when he was just 11 years old.
“Stevie’s on the front porch, and then we take him down into the studio,” he remembered. “He played everything down there. He played around, played the drums. He played a piano, he played the organ, he played everything down there. He was about 11 years old. He was fascinating, man…I tell people all the time, Stevie is blind, but he’s never been handicapped.”
Although Smokey has some things still on his bucket list, he expresses his forever gratitude for the continuous appreciation and longevity of his music, referencing the 2023 Grammy performance of his and Wonder’s 1967 hit, “The Tears of a Clown”.
“To have my music being sung and known by people is my impossible dream come true,” he said. “When I got to be about seven or eight years old, I really wanted to be a singer. That was my dream. I didn’t think it would ever be possible, you know, growing up in the hood.
“When I hear my songs in movies and stuff like that, I still get a thrill from that, man,” he continued. “As a songwriter, I can’t beat that. I want to write songs that people want to sing, and play, and be involved with forever.”
Smokey, at 83, is still recording and releasing music, with an album coming out in April titled, Gasms. Although, his age is slightly catching up to his ability to still continuously perform.
“I’m still doing this, and I’m still loving it. I love it every night when we do it,” he said. “The most difficult part for me now is stamina. I think I used to be able to go out and I could do 31-nighters and be cool. I can’t do that now…The travel is the most difficult part of it now, but once we get there, and we’re doing the shows and stuff like that, I’m having so much fun. I am loving every moment of it.”