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"Tears of a Clown"
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Tamla 54199
Oct. 1970
Billboard: #1    Lyrics Icon Videos Icon

Smokey Robinsonears of a Clown" was originally written as an instrumental by Stevie Wonder and his producer, Hank Cosby. Later, Smokey Robinson added lyrics and recorded the song with the Miracles. It was released as an album track on their 1968 LP Make It Happen and was promptly forgotten. Around this time, Robinson was growing tired of the ritual of touring. His wife, Claudette, had once been a member of the Miracles but no longer toured with the band. After an unfortunate series of miscarriages, she thought it would be best to leave the group and stay at home.
The Ultimate Collection
Released in 1998, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - The Ultimate Collection features "Tears of a Clown" and 24 other Miracles hits from 1960 through 1970.
With the discomfort of never-ending bus rides and ungodly hours behind her, she gave birth to two children. Robinson, inspired by his wife's example, wanted to be home with his family, so he announced his intention to leave the Miracles to concentrate on songwriting and production.

While this process was being formalized, Motown's English offices were desperate for another single from the group. Robinson's popularity in Great Britain was enormous, and fans were clamoring for something new. With no new product on hand, they rummaged through the band's back catalog looking for a potential single. Even though it was almost three years old, they culled "Tears of a Clown" from the Make It Happen album and, not too surprisingly, it reached #1 on the British charts. Of course, the American branch of Motown then felt compelled to release the single as well, and it performed the same feat, reaching #1 for two weeks. Years after it was first released, it became the biggest hit of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' career.

Now, Robinson was in a dilemma. The other Miracles were not songwriters, and they derived most of their income from performances. If he quit, whatever money the band could earn by touring would be lost. The Miracles had been together without personnel changes (excepting Claudette) since their junior-high-school days, and Robinson felt compelled to stay with the group for a while longer. With typical aplomb, Robinson agreed to stay for one last go-around. In 1972, when the tour ended, he quietly made his move. Finally and formally, he left the Miracles.

- Thomas Ryan, American Hit Radio, Prima Entertainment, 1996.

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