Motown legend Smokey Robinson feared he would never sing again after his terrifying battle with Covid-19 late last year.
Robinson has revealed he spent 11 days in acute care in an Los Angeles hospital after contracting the virus last December and was left so weak from the virus that he nearly died.
The music icon, famed for his powerful octave popping silky tones on hits like Tears of a Clown and Being With You, admitted that it was only after leaving hospital that he realized the ‘severity’ of his case.
Doctors told him a key factor in his ability to pull through was his high fitness levels at age 81 – despite the elderly being the most susceptible during the Covid spike in December 2020.
In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, Robinson said he is almost fully recovered and has even stepped up his physical workout regime to stay fit to ward off reinfection.
Smokey Robinson, pictured performing in Los Angeles last month, has revealed he nearly died last December after a terrifying battle with Covid-19
The Motown legend told DailyMail.com he feared he would never sing again after the virus ‘took my voice’ and left him weak
Robinson, speaking ahead of being honored at the Power of Love Gala in Las Vegas on Saturday, said: ‘I am a Covid survivor.’
‘I got it severely and I was hospitalized for 11 days, and four or five of those I do not even remember,’ he told DailyMail.com.
‘It really was touch and go and a terribly debilitating ailment.
‘I was not sure that I would ever be able to sing again because it took my voice. I could barely even talk.
‘Even when I got home I was hoarse, I could not try to sing because I was afraid. It was one of the most frightening fights I have ever had.
‘I had to work on my vocal cords and get myself back together. I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life, and it was possible, so I did it.’
The beloved entertainer said his doctors told him that he got off relatively lightly.
‘They told me that it was lucky for me especially at my age that I’d taken care of myself; but for the grace of God and that fact I probably would not be here talking right now,’ he said.
Robinson confessed that the virus affected him so much that he only understood his perils afterwards.
‘None of this really scared me until after I came home,’ he said.
‘When I was there trying to get well while weak I never thought about dying. I was thinking I am going to get well.
‘I looked back and knew that I could’ve died, because it was that severe. Then it scared me.
‘It sounds weird I know, but the severity of my condition didn’t hit me until it was over.’
Robinson spoke exclusively ahead of being honored along with Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds at Keep Memory Alive’s 25th annual Power of Love gala at Resorts World Las Vegas on Saturday, October 16
The Power of Love gala will raise much-needed funds to continue its mission to support Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in providing services. Pictured: Larry Ruvo and Camille Ruvo at the Power of Love Gala for the Cleveland Clinic last year
Robinson, unaware of how he came into contact with Covid, revealed that he’d felt ‘weird and funny after coming in off the road’ just before Christmas 2020
He tested negative at first, but after ‘still feeling bad at home’, two days later a second test was positive.
After moving into his home guest house to quarantine away from his wife, his situation worsened significantly as his breathing capabilities diminished just 48 hours later.
‘It was over man,’ Smokey said. ‘They had to rush me to the hospital.
‘Fortunately I never had to use the ventilator. I never lost my taste or smell, but it wiped me out. I lost all my energy and could not walk from the bed to the bathroom without being exhausted.’
After returning home Robinson gradually dragged himself back to health.
First he built up his energy through walking sessions before working up to gym sessions this summer. The scare has meant he is more committed to his fitness.
‘Before I got the virus I would work out two or three times a week. I have been doing yoga, stretching and positions for 40 years.
‘Now I work out almost every day, because I don’t want to get the virus again even though I’ve had both of my shots.
‘I lift weights and work out. I don’t run as I had surgery on both knees, but I do walk. I stay active as I don’t want to be decrepit.’
Robinson’s famous voice has recovered through performances, first playing only 40 minutes to now being back on stage for over two hours.
‘I had to work on my voice as well as my physical self and get myself together,’ he said.
‘The first gig I did was a private event for a hospital in Texas, but we only did forty minutes. Usually I do two or two and half hours.
‘I got through that, which was psychologically a help. Then I did another at 60 minutes. It went well, felt good and I’m not afraid anymore. I have done three full blown concerts and am back 95 per cent.’
Robinson is famed for his powerful octave popping silky tones on hits like Tears of a Clown and Being With You
The 81-year-old launched his career as the frontman of The Miracles in the mid 1960s and 70s
He added that his passion for performance never left him: ‘That was my life since I was in high school. I played sports, and I’ve always been very, very active.
‘And then I love my job. It’s an important factor. When I go to work I am looking forward to it.
‘It is what keeps me going. I love being with people, entertaining, singing the songs and having a good time. People think that when you are in show business it’s sex, wine and rock’n’roll – you work and party.
‘Before Covid, I had meet and greets with fans, and invariably somebody would ask “where is the party?”
‘I am like I had a party on the stage for two hours, now my party is going to be going to the hotel and watching TV until I fall asleep.’
But Robinson has no plans to hang up his microphone anytime soon.
‘George Burns said he was going to do his last concert when he was 100 – and he did,’ the singer said. ‘And then he died. I plan on being the George Burns in this sphere of show business. It’s at least twenty more years then!’
The Detroit born star insists he learned his lesson after his first ‘and only’ attempt at retirement was a disaster when he quit his original chart-topping act The Miracles for an executive role at Motown Records in the early 1970s.
‘I retired for three years when I left The Miracles. And after two and half years I was miserable. I was vice president of Motown, trying to hide my misery every day going into the office and pretending I was happy.
‘Berry Gordy, who is my best friend, put me out and said: “Man I can see you are miserable and it makes me miserable. Go make a record. Go on the road.” And that is exactly what I did and came back to the life I loved.’
Robinson spoke exclusively ahead of being honored along with Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds at Keep Memory Alive’s 25th annual Power of Love gala at Resorts World Las Vegas on Saturday, October 16.
Robinson has been entertaining audiences since the 1950s, making his mark as founder and frontman of The Miracles, before forging a solo career all while penning iconic hits like My Guy and Cruisin’.
Robinson is a 1987 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, 2016 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize honoree and 2002 National Medal of the Arts recipient.
Alongside Robison the milestone anniversary night will include performances and appearances from actor, comedian and Blackish star Anthony Anderson, multi-Grammy Award winner, writer and producer Tori Kelly, two-time Grammy Award winner Kenny Loggins, Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman of R&B group Boyz II Men, Charlie Wilson and Grammy winning chart topper Bruno Mars.
The marquee Power of Love gala raises much-needed funds to continue Keep Memory Alive’s mission to support Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in providing services, care and resources to patients and their caregivers in the fight against neurocognitive diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, multiple system atrophy, multiple sclerosis and more.
Robinson, speaking from his Los Angeles home, said of the honor: ‘They do such a wonderful thing treating these ailments connected to the brain, from Alzheimer’s to dementia, it’s very important.
‘By them doing research for those with brain ailments and afflictions it is a wonderful thing. I don’t know why they are honoring me, but I am very honored to be honored by them.’
Keep Memory Alive Co-Founders Larry and Camille Ruvo will present K.T. Lim, CEO & Chairman of Genting Berhad and developer of Resorts World, with the Keep Memory Alive Global Community Leadership Award in honor of his outstanding accomplishments and generous philanthropic support for those with neurodegenerative disease.
Keep Memory Alive, whose mission is to provide enhanced treatment and ultimately cures for patients and their families suffering from neurocognitive disorders, raises awareness and funds in support of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
For additional information visit keepmemoryalive.org.
Source: Daily Mail UK