TODAY | April 18, 2013
>>> dylan who called this gentleman america's greatest living poet. grammy singer-songwriter smoky robinson is an icon of motown , with over 4,000 songs to his credit and a 50-year career.
>> he first rose to fame in a group he formed in high school , the miracles with the song "shop around."
>> he's portrayed in this great new broadway show , musical
called "motown: the musical."
>> i know you can rap. you got down on nelly.
>> doing a 50-year career, are you now rapping? please tell me no.
>> i'll tell you no.
>> are you roapping these days?
>> are you kidding?
>> we were there on opening night , such a thrill and such fun.
>> what a combination of people in that audience. people, actors and actresses play you on stage.
>> we kept thinking, what are they thinking. when you were watching the show unfold in front of you, what were you thinking?
>> i was looking at it thinking, this is about my life and about what has gone on in my life and i'm looking at it, being flashback and all that. and it's barry gordy 's life.
>> it's a huge cast, too.
>> let me ask you, i didn't realize, because we all know about the success of motown . what you really learn is how it all really began. you were in the room at the very beginning of it. so many people got their success because of barry. you never left him. you're one of the few that stayed with him from day one and didn't go away.
>> he really is my best friend , so i wasn't going anywhere.
>> they all claimed to love him. but they all left and you didn't.
>> they do love him. we all love each other. and the beauty of this is, is that when you, if you're there on opening night , you saw what's left of the motown family. all of us are still alive. we still have the motown family. we all love each other.
>> it's like any family, there are skirmishes.
>> but they can't take a good family down.
>> the play is doing great. broken all box office records from broadway, you know. and you know, sold out until november.
>> watching the crowd react instantly. you heard this song, any song and the crowd instantly felt it. when you heard someone else singing your songs, did it feel --
>> it felt good. it always feels good. as a songwriter, i want people to sing it. i hope people sing it from now on and when they do it object broadway, you get paid for it. everybodiry time on that stage, baby.
>> the guy who played you? how did he, did he study you?
>> yes. he's doing a great job. i got to know him, know his family. he's a wonderful young man.
>> did he imitate your voice and do all of those things? is that how he speaks?
>> he speaks pretty much like that.
>> pitched more than that he speaks very much like that.
>> your voice doesn't sound ravaged like so many people we know. smoke and drinking scotch for 50 years. what do you do? if you feel smoky's arm right now.
>> and look at your face, you haven't aged at all.
>> i love you.
>> she's available.
>> let me ask you something, how do you do it? you're on the road still, what, over 200 gigs a year, right?
>> you have to take care of yourself. it comes a point in your life, i tell people all the time, when you're 20, your arm is really killing you, your arm is all messed up. you wake up, your arm is fine. when you're 40, you go to bed and you're tired. you wake up and your arm is hurting.
>> what about "shop around" is that one of your favorites?
>> i don't know what my favorites are. all the songs, the one of the great things about the play is that when a person comes to see the play, they're seeing two hours and 40 minutes of hits. and there wasn't room, there wasn't nearly room for all the hits. you know.
>> so -- you know, i'm very proud of what we accomplished.
>> well, you should be.
>> after seeing the story, we can really say, it's nice to see the nice guys do finish first. because you're the hero of this music musical. you're the real friend, you're the guy that never blinked. and we -- we