Lunch with Smokey Robinson...What a Thrill

Len “Muddy” Mardeusz
Roving Reporter


One of their first artists was Vanilla Ice, a white rapper, whose first hip hop single topped the Billboard charts.  In 1991, the label signed Smokey Robinson. He recorded an album “Double Good Everything”, and eventually hit #64 on the R & B charts. At the time I was Special Accounts Manager for Capitol Records. He came to town with the Vice President of Marketing and to visit Key Accounts but mostly to meet the local Capitol staff. We arranged a luncheon at a restaurant across from the Fisher Building.  It was about an hour and a half lunch. Smokey was very affable but did not talk much of his Motown Days. He focused on his new album. Then it was off back to the airport, Smokey needed to return to New York. I did not want to bother him for an autograph. The ride back to,the airport was talk between Smokey and the label VP.  The car pulled up to terminal. I got out with Smokey and the VP of Marketing. They both said thanks, as I started for the car, Smokey pulled out photo that he  signed earlier. He handed it to me, said thanks and smiled. He is truly a genuine person. His recent appearance before Congress to get the royalty laws changed is a matter close to his personal beliefs. Far too many artists from the 50’s and 60’s have been financially hurt. Smokey addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee saying, “ I know a lot of musicians, producers, writers who have fallen on hard times and could really use that money. Update the copyright laws.  I am here to support the Music Modernization Act.”

The House unanimously past the additions to the Act updating licensing and copyright laws making music recorded before 1972 now subject to copyright laws. Smokey concluded,  “ I am still able to perform and support myself but so many others can not do so.  This change will allow them to earn a living”.


Len “Muddy” Mardeusz


SBK was a small record label started by three New York business men. At this point their names are irrelevant. At any rate EMI, the parent company of Capitol Records purchased distribution rights and eventually bought the label.

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