George Harrison Needed To Make “Pure Smokey” For A Heartfelt Reason
George Harrison of The Beatles - CBS Photography
Even when fame and fortune was on his side, George Harrison knew how to stay humble and give thanks to people that he owed his talents from. For example, when George met his hero Bob Dylan, he paid tribute with “I’d Had You Anytime.” On a similar state of fate, Harrison knew he had to make a good song acknowledgement to Motown hero Smokey Robinson by creating “Pure Smokey,” a masterpiece from his Thirty-Three & 1/3 (1976) album.
It’s no surprise that Harrison and his band, The Beatles, admired Robinson in many ways. Paul McCartney once revealed in an interview that they view The Miracles’ leader as their own “God,” inspiring the young fab four to write their own songs and do it the way Smokey Robinson does it. John Lennon named his songs “Not A Second Time” and “All I’ve Got to Do” as his attempt to imitate the legend in his own distinct style. But it was Harrison who captured the singer’s essence as a musician, literally marking the song title with Robinson’s name.
Harrison explained how the song came to fruition in his 1980 memoir, I Me Mine. “I’ve always liked Smokey Robinson and he’s probably one of the best songwriters around,” the singer wrote. “He writes great lyrics and great melodies, and he is fantastic to see in concert, because one tends to forget how many good tunes he has written.”
He also said that when he adores someone, he always felt the need to tell it to him/her. “I don’t want to die and then to think, ‘Oh, I forgot to tell them I liked them.’”
The 1976 song attracted many fans of the singer, including the one he paid his homage to. Robinson felt “flattered” on Harrison’s efforts to compliment him through “Pure Smokey.” Eventually, the pair became close buds and even hung out a few times when they got the chance.
Listen to “Pure Smokey” below.