MRRL Hall of Fame

80.) The Tears Of A Clown

Artist Name: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Year Inducted: 2013

"The Tears Of A Clown”  (S. Wonder, H. Cosby, W. Robinson) – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles;  Tamla label,  # 1 Billboard Hot 100, # 1 Billboard R&B – 1970.  Inducted in 2013.

“The Tears of A Clown” has to be the most unusual # 1 hit in the long and storied history of the Motown record label. Stevie Wonder and his producer hank Cosby had composed the music in 1966, but couldn’t come up with a lyric to match the instrumental. Wonder played it to Smokey Robinson who said the tune reminded him of the circus. Smokey wrote the lyrics, and sang lead on the song that became part of the Miracles’ 1967 album, “Make It Happen”.

By the end of 1969, Robinson had informed the other Miracles that he was tired of touring and would be retiring from the act to spend more time in Detroit with his family and concentrate on his duties as vice-president of Motown Records. Because of a lack of new material from the Miracles, the division of Motown in Britain selected “The Tears Of A Clown” from the group’s catalogue for a single release in that country. A new mix was made of the song, and by September of 1970, the single was # 1 in Great Britain.

The success of the song overseas prompted Motown to release the single in the United States, where it quickly became a # 1 hit on both the Hot 100 and the R&B charts. The Miracles had sold millions of records during their long career at Motown, but “The Tears Of A Clown” was the group’s first and only # 1 hit with Smokey Robinson as the lead singer.

Because of the success of the single, Robinson delayed his decision to leave the Miracles for two more years. “The Tears Of A Clown” remains the biggest hit of the 46 recordings that the Miracles placed on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2002, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaMX0Cs5Bc4