But not very deep inside--as Motown superstar composer and singer Robinson writes with maximum sentiment but minimum insight...

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SMOKEY: Inside My Life

But not very deep inside--as Motown superstar composer and singer Robinson writes with maximum sentiment but minimum insight of his meteoric rise, cocaine-aided fall, and recent resurgence. A short preface--unsigned but presumably penned by co-writer Ritz, who also helped Ray Charles with his biography, Brother Ray (1978)--sets the tone of this spun-sugar autobiography: ""Smokey Robinson looks directly at you. . .His luminous eyes are so startling clear, you suspect that, peering into them, you might see through to his soul."" Maybe, but that soul remains stubbornly hidden here, shrouded behind a smile-button persona that adores nearly everyone, from Diana Ross (""I loved Diana. I still do"") to songwriters Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier (""I'll always love Brian and Lamont. . .beautiful writers and beautiful people"") and Motown founder Berry Gordy (""I love Berry""). Fortunately, not completely buried under all this lovin' is the intriguing story of Motown's ascension as a homegrown hit-factory fueled by the entrepreneurial energy of Gordy and the musical genius of Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson; also of interest are the discordant facts of Robinson's life: an alcoholic dad; a long marriage marred by miscarriages, stillbirths, and intense adultery; and the tumble into cocaine-smoking--all narrated in an emotion-wracked, often fitfully hip voice that adds spice to the otherwise bland presentation (""Berry Gordy was street, but he was not jitterbug; he wasn't fly, wasn't the kind of cat who strolled with a limp walk""). Robinson's cure from cocaine came easy: a one-time session with a woman preacher did the trick (""The Lord washed me clean""); now he's back making sweet music, happy and content (""Thank you, Lord""). Heartfelt but thin fluff--and a far more gripping and penetrative autobiography by a pop singer who also escaped cocaine-hell is David Crosby's current Long Time Gone (p. 1291).

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1988