Smokey Robinson, still writing, duets with friends

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Smokey Robinson, still writing, duets with friends
In this July 12, 2014 photo, Motown legend Smokey Robinson poses for a photo, in Los Angeles. Robinson's his latest album, “Smokey & Friends,” comes out Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. The collection of Robinson tunes pairs the Motown veteran with Elton John, Mary J. Blige, James Taylor, CeeLo Green, Miguel, and Steven Tyler. (Photo by Katy Winn/Invision/AP)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey ROBINSON; Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by Echoes/Redferns)
NETHERLANDS - JULY 02: PARADISO Photo of Smokey ROBINSON, Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by Rico D'Rozario/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey ROBINSON; Event:, Artist: Smokey Robinson (Photo by RB/Redferns)
AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey ROBINSON; Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by Bob King/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey ROBINSON; Event:, Artist: Smokey Robinson (Photo by RB/Redferns)
UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 01: PALLADIUM Photo of Smokey ROBINSON, Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)
NETHERLANDS - JULY 02: PARADISO Photo of Smokey ROBINSON, Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by Rico D'Rozario/Redferns)
UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 01: PALLADIUM Photo of Smokey ROBINSON, Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey ROBINSON; Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)
NETHERLANDS - JULY 02: PARADISO Photo of Smokey ROBINSON, Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by Rico D'Rozario/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey ROBINSON; Posed full length studio portrait of Smokey Robinson (Photo by Echoes/Redferns)
NETHERLANDS - JULY 02: PARADISO Photo of Smokey ROBINSON, Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by Rico D'Rozario/Redferns)
UNITED STATES - MAY 01: Smokey Robinson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 09: HAMMERSMITH ODEON Photo of Smokey ROBINSON, Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns)
UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 09: HAMMERSMITH ODEON Photo of Smokey ROBINSON, Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns)
UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 01: HAMMERSMITH ODEON Photo of Smokey ROBINSON, Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by Pete Cronin/Redferns)
UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 01: HAMMERSMITH ODEON Photo of Smokey ROBINSON, Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by Pete Cronin/Redferns)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 18: Smokey Robinson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 18: Smokey Robinson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 18: Smokey Robinson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 18: Smokey Robinson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 18: Smokey Robinson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey Robinson, January 1973, California, Los Angeles, Smokey Robinson Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey Robinson, January 1973, California, Los Angeles, Smokey Robinson Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey ROBINSON; Posed portrait of Smokey Robinson, in a car (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 18: Smokey Robinson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 18: Smokey Robinson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Smokey Robinson during Smokey Robinson Live In Concert at Apollo Theater in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Smokey Robinson Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1960: Photo of Smokey Robinson Photo by Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Smokey Robinson performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City on September 11, 1982. (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey ROBINSON; Posed portrait of Smokey Robinson in a car (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Smokey Robinson Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Smokey Robinson Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 01: Photo of Smokey ROBINSON (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of Smokey ROBINSON; Portrait (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1960: Photo of Smokey Robinson Photo by Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Smokey Robinson backstage at Madison Square Garden in New York City on September 11, 1982. (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Smokey Robinson Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1967: Photo of Smokey Robinson (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey ROBINSON (Photo by Gems/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Smokey Robinson (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Smokey Robinson Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey Robinson (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1967: Photo of Smokey Robinson (Photo by Wilson Lindsay/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1967: Photo of Smokey Robinson (Photo by Wilson Lindsay/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1967: Photo of Smokey Robinson (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1980: Photo of Smokey Robinson (Photo by Bobby Holland/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1980: Photo of Smokey Robinson (Photo by Bobby Holland/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey Robinson (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1960: Photo of Smokey Robinson Photo by Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Smokey ROBINSON (Photo by Pete Cronin/Redferns)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Photo of Aretha FRANKLIN and Smokey ROBINSON; L-R: Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - APRIL 25: PLYMOUTH JAZZ FESTIVAL Photo of Smokey ROBINSON, Smokey Robinson performing on stage (Photo by Roberta Parkin./Redferns)
Smokey Robinson performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on June 10, 1982. (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1967: Photo of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 27: ROYAL ALBERT HALL Photo of Smokey ROBINSON, performing live onstage (Photo by Marc Broussely/Redferns)
Smokey Robinson recieves award from BET COO Debra Lee (Photo by Pete Mitchell/WireImage)
CONCORD, UNITED STATES - MAY 20: Smokey Robinson performing at the Concord Pavilion in Concord, CA on May 20, 1982. (Photo by Clayton Call/Redferns)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - APRIL 21: Smokey Robinson performs at Caesars Circus Maximus Theater on April 21, 2012 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Donald Kravitz/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - 1978: Singer Smokey Robinson poses for a portrait in 1978 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1964: Photo of Smokey Robinson, Robinson Smokey 040 c MOA (by Don Paulsen backstage at the Apollo 1964 learning my girl) (Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
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By RYAN PEARSON
AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After five decades in show business, the man who shaped Motown with instantly recognizable hits like "My Girl" and "Tears of a Clown" says he can't stop writing.

Smokey Robinson says he scribbles down lyrics on a pad or leaves a fragment of a tune on his own voice mail whenever inspiration hits.

"I write on the plane, on the bus, on the train, I write in the bathroom," Robinson said in an interview. "I do have a bunch of songs that I'm very anxious to record."

But you won't hear any of that material on his latest album, "Smokey & Friends," out Tuesday. The collection of Robinson tunes pairs the legendary singer-songwriter with Elton John, Mary J. Blige, James Taylor, CeeLo Green, Miguel, Steven Tyler and more.

Robinson, who is on a U.S. tour, talked to The Associated Press about his duets collaborators and his love of being on the road.

Music Legend Smokey Robinson Previews His New Star-Studded Duets Album!
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GETTING A HOLD OF FRIENDS

On "Smokey & Friends," Robinson sang "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" in-studio with longtime friend Steven Tyler, while the other tracks were pieced together electronically from separate recording sessions.

Each collaborator picked a favorite song written by Robinson. Elton John, a Robinson friend for three decades, chose "The Tracks of My Tears," first recorded by the Miracles in 1965.

"When we're around each other, we have a great time. Neither one of us is from affluency," Robinson said of John. "So when you come up like that and your dream is to be in show business or to sing or play and you get the chance to really do it and earn your living, and it's your life - it's a wonderful thing."

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BACK INTO THE STORM

Robinson heard John Legend cover his song "Quiet Storm" in concert and told the 35-year-old soul crooner backstage that he should record a version of it.

"I look at people like John and I know that the future of show business is in good hands," Robinson said. The two join up on a new version of the tune, which in 1975 marked Robinson's return to the industry after a brief hiatus.

"I'm very close to that song," he said. "It became a radio format and there are `quiet storm' stations all over the country now."

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MARY'S METAMORPHOSIS

Robinson says he's been watching and listening to Mary J. Blige since she debuted in 1992 as the "queen of hip-hop soul."

"Mary has done a metamorphosis from when I first met her," he said. "She came from having the image of the hip-hop world into what she has now. And that's a whole other vision of her. ... She's very spiritual. And she's one of the greatest singers ever."

On the duets album, Blige sings "Being With You," first recorded by Robinson in 1981 on his solo album of the same name.

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GENERATIONS OF SMOKEY FANS

Robinson, 74, has been performing for over five decades and won't be stopping anytime soon. He gets a spark of energy from seeing parents in the audience holding infants.

"The first time I saw those people, they were on their parents' laps. There's everybody there from 6 months to 100, and they're of all races," he said. "I'm not going to get that anywhere else. I'm not going to get that same feeling, that same vibe, that same energy, anywhere else."

There's no after-party after each two-hour show nowadays, though.

"That was the party for me. I'm going to my hotel now. I'm going to watch some TV until I wind down and go to sleep. But it is a party," he said. "That's why I still do it."

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