Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Smokey Robinson Story

From what my readers have been telling me--hehe, "my readers" sounds pretty impressive, but for all you know it might be three very loyal friends-- many people start blogs and fail to maintain them. As Cousin Al said, "Make sure you take care of it and 'feed it' often."

Weeeelll I'm pretty busy this week, so I'll feed you a "re-broadcast" instead. I wrote this about 12 years ago, but it's pertinent because it's still a major story in my hermitesque life and also, we recently saw Smokey again after 12 years. So here's the story:
If you ever get a chance to see Smokey Robinson perform in person, don't miss'll love him. And if you happen to sit up front in the first row, be'll FALL IN LOVE with him...anyway, that's what happened to me when I first saw him perform live in Las Vegas! Must be those green eyes??

Whatever it was, it turned me from a Smokey fan into a Smokey fanatic! I started buying every Smokey tape and CD I could find. I read Smokey's autobiography then other Motown biographies and books...they all fascinated me. In the 60's when Motown was at it's peak I was too busy being a Beatlemaniac to care much about Motown music, so this was all "new" to me...and fun!

I had two new purposes in life now:to see Smokey perform again and to MEET him. I decided to write to him to let him know how he touched my life and just as I finished the letter, I had this great idea. I bought one of those disposable cameras and sent it with the letter, a couple of goodies from Hawaii and a stamped self-addressed envelope. I asked him to please have someone snap a couple of pictures of him and mail me back the camera in the envelope (you have to make it convenient if you want a response!)

Well I didn't hear anything for almost two months so I figured that was that. Then one day while I was taking an afternoon nap the phone rang. It was Ivory Stone--Smokey's back-up singer for over 20 years now. I recognized her name immediately and wondered if I was dreaming. She told me they thought the camera was a great idea and she'd been snapping pics of him while on tour... but she'd lost the camera at O'Hare Airport! She promised to buy another one and send me the pics ASAP. After we hung up I was SO excited and wanted to tell someone about it. My dad, who was visiting me, had been outside in the yard and when he came into the house I blurted out the whole story. He told me "Are you sure you weren't dreaming?" I said "Well, didn't you hear the phone ring?" He said no....ARRRGH! *LOL*

I waited very impatiently and finally THE PACKAGE arrived, full of goodies (tshirts, concert program, autographed 8X10, etc.) and THE PHOTOS!! Ivory explained that this had turned out to be a photo fiasco because after she had lost the first camera, the pictures she took with the second camera turned out badly and so she finally used a "real" camera and took a third roll. She sent me over a dozen pics of Smokey. Most of them showed him in different stage outfits, obviously she took a pic every night before he went onstage. It occurred to me that if she went through three rolls of film before she finally got a good set, then he had to pose about 30 times... OH MY GOD...he is a true prince to have put up with THAT!!! I had wanted him to remember me, but not as the fan that made him pose 30 times!! *LMAO*

I wrote back to Ivory to thank her for all her efforts and asked her to let me know when they'd be in Las Vegas again. A few months later she sent me a note saying they'd be there in March so my husband and I were able to plan another vacation to Vegas then. We ended up seeing Smokey's show 3 TIMES (I'm blessed with such a sweet, patient husband who puts up with my crazy whims *g*) and got to meet Smokey and Ivory backstage. My dream come true! He was exactly as I expected: gorgeous and unbelievably gracious--even when someone tried to "rescue" him from me because I was taking up too much of his time, he didn't rush off. He was very patient with me while I did my "Kathie Lee" bit, showing him a picture that my daughter drew, making him autograph it, etc. I will truly remember my Smokey Encounter for the rest of my life...but considering what I put him through, I think I'll give him a few years before I ever try meeting him again!!
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Well, I gave him 12 years and truth be told, when I found out he'd be performing at the Waikiki Shell, although I fully intended to attend the concert, I didn't feel it necessary to try to meet him again. Until...Jordan asked to meet him. As giving her as many unique experiences as we're able to is important to us, I felt obligated to make this happen for her. Luckily Ivory Stone had not moved and I was able to write her and again bribe her with dark chocolate mac nuts. Nah, she would've done it for nothing, she's such a nice person. She put me in touch with Smokey's manager and we were even offered free tickets (but I had already purchased them).

Smokey was even more amazing twelve years later. I urge you to see him perform if you get a chance. He is not a NARAS Living Legend for his past glories, he can still out-sing and out-entertain most young musicians popular today. What's more, he's a gracious prince of a man, not to mention gorgeous.

Unfortunately, we were at the end of the line to meet him at the Shell and his manager wanted to rush him off so although we got the photo clicked for Jordan's photo album, I didn't get a chance to remind him of how we met the first time. I'll never know if he had to pose 30 times for any other fan!


  1. Colleen, What a great story!! Smokey is coming into our area on Sunday and my friend is also a life-long Smokey fan. I would love to surprise him with a backstage pass. Is there any information you can give to help me out? He surprised me by flying in from AZ last weekend and I would love to return the favor. Thanks so much - Karen
    PS - I have been to the festival on Kauai and I love your island.

  2. Hi Karen! Thanks for visiting and commenting. I'm sorry I can't offer any inside info since our meeting was a one-time thing courtesy of Ivory Stone, who does not sing w/ Smokey anymore.

    I can only suggest you assertively make your way to the backstage door after the show. You might luck out and be able to get admitted. I noticed 12 years ago at the Desert Inn that they did let some fans in who did not seem to be "on the list." I guess it depends on how Smokey's schedule is and how big a crowd is "on the list" that night.

    Good luck, keep me posted!

  3. Wish I suggested this earlier but if you maybe had a little gift for Smokey they'd be more inclined to let you backstage? I'd recommend something that wouldn't go to waste if you're not able to give it to him.

    Wish you had those mac nuts that my daughter FORGOT to hand to him! Hey if you get to meet him, tell him Colleen says hi...the girl who sent that infamous disposable camera years ago. I still feel mad at myself for not mentioning this to him in May to see if he remembered or not.

    Again, good luck.


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