Wait…Smokey Dated THIS Singer? They’re Friends AND They’re Exes

Posted On : November 20, 2014

Smokey had a lot of friends back in his Detroit days. He was friends with Aretha Franklin and the Miracles when they were pre-teens. But here’s the kicker, he was also friends with
one Diane Ross (later Diana) when they lived down the street from each other and they eventually fell in love.

Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross
Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross

Their love-affair was during her pre-Supreme days and although it didn’t last long,
Smokey confessed that he was head-over-heals over her. Diana confirmed this also when she wrote about it in her book “Secrets Of A Sparrow.” Now ain’t that something?!!

One of Smokey’s nieces was Diana’s best friend and that’s how they hooked up. He revealed how much of a tom-boy Diana was at the time, and that she was an exceptional athlete who could fit in with whatever games they played on the streets. Fast forward a few years later and they were both signed to Motown, where he would produce a song for the Supremes featuring Diana, that was never released.

“There were so many talented kids in our neighborhood: Diana lived four doors down from me; Aretha Franklin lived around the corner,” says Smokey. “I’ve known her (Aretha) since I was six years old. The Temptations lived across the avenue.”

Okay ILOSM family, we know you’re probably thinking the same thing we were thinking when we first found this out, so let’s address the BIG ELEPHANT in the room: Was Smokey ever jealous when Diana started dating his best friend, Berry Gordy?

Diana Ross and Berry Gordy
Diana Ross and Berry Gordy

Although he said he still loves her, he actually didn’t mind at all, partly because he’d been knowing Diana since she was 10 or 11, so their relationship was and still is as strong as ever, and partly because he has major love for Berry and just wanted to see both of his close friends very happy. The other contributing factor is that by the time Berry and Diana hooked up, Smokey and Diana had moved well past their relationship. Smokey, Gordy & “The Boss” Ms. Ross are still like one big happy family. By the way, Smokey also admitted that he and Berry have always had the exact same taste in women throughout the years.

Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross
Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross

According to Smokey, all the artists at Motown had to attend a training session on how to
maneuver on stage and how to deal with the press. That was called “Artist Development”
and held across the street from the Motown building. “Diana was the most hardworking,
most diligent student at artist development,” Smokey says. “Everybody else would be
gone and she would still be there. Diana Ross wanted to be … Diana Ross.” He admired
her so much in those days. He still calls her ‘his sister’ and Michael Jackson ‘his brother.’
Some fellow Motown alums who were aware of the relationship just before Berry, suggested
Smokey may have hinted something in one of his classics. The 1967 “Tracks Of My
Tears” spews a line ‘Although she may be cute, she’s just a substitute/Because you’re the permanent one’ may have been about Ross as the substitute and his wife Claudette as the permanent one. Who knows about that one?

It was also rumored that Smokey’s wife, Claudette (Miracles), knew of the prior relationship and
demanded he never work with Diana. Smokey obliged, but as soon as Diana left the Supremes,
he produced one of their monstrous hits “Floy Joy” in 1972.

The Miracles. Smokey married group member, Claudette Robinson (2nd from left), on November 7, 1959.
The Miracles. Smokey married group member, Claudette Robinson (2nd from left), on November 7, 1959.

The message in this one is powerful: When you love to see the person that you love, continue to love, that’s REAL love right there! And that’s what Smokey Robinson did with his best friend, Berry and with the former love of his life, Diana. Much respect to the brotha for that.

Flip the page to reminisce with us and see if you think Smokey’s lyrics were all about Diana.