Smokey Robinson still thrilled by George Harrison’s long-ago tribute: ‘A wonderful, flattering thing’

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George Harrison’s “Pure Smokey,” a tribute to Smokey Robinson, gave credit to an artist who had been part of the Beatles’ musical foundation. Robinson’s “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” in fact, appeared on their second studio effort, 1963’s With the Beatles.

These hat tips from one of rock’s biggest bands didn’t go unnoticed by the Motown legend — though, at least during the height of Beatlemania, Smokey Robinson didn’t get to spend much time with them.

“The Beatles were a very unique group, as we all know,” Smokey Robinson once told Hazy Rock. “I had the pleasure of meeting the Beatles, you know. And George, I had the pleasure of spending more time with him than any of the other guys. I just met the other guys briefly. George, for a time, was living in Los Angeles, and I had the pleasure of being in his company a few times. We got to know each other kind of well.”

“Pure Smokey” was the centerpiece of side two on Harrison’s Thirty Three and 1/3, released in November 1976. “Ooh Baby (You Know That I Love You),” from 1975’s Extra Texture, also traced back to Smokey Robinson’s influence. “That was a wonderful, flattering thing for him to feel like that, and to write about it,” Smokey Robinson adds, “so that the world could know that he felt like that. It was wonderful to me, and I’m very flattered by that.”

More recently, Robinson was part of The Art of McCartney, a multi-artist tribute to George Harrison’s former Beatles bandmate, singing Paul’s solo hit “So Bad.” He also covered the Beatles’ “And I Love Her,” with the Miracles.

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