Smokey Robinson Opens Up About His ‘Hell Of A Drug Trip’

Like many famous musicians, Smokey Robinson went through a period in his life when drugs became a central focus — but for the Motown great, this descent into addiction ultimately led to an unexpected blessing.

In the 1980s, Smokey had already had success both on stage and behind the scenes in the music industry. He had made it through his early career without spiraling out of control due to drug use, but in his forties, Smokey began using cocaine and quickly fell down a dangerous path. Ultimately, this downward spiral led Smokey to find himself and find God, but before that could happen, he had to reach his own breaking point. And he did, after several years of abusing coke.

“I went on a hell of a drug trip,” Smokey tells “Oprah’s Master Class” in a recent interview. “For two-and-a-half years, I went on a drug trip. And it was horrendous.”

Smokey may have thought that his maturity, life experience and celebrity would protect him from the pitfalls of addiction, but looking back, he now knows the harsh reality of drug use.

“Drugs do not discriminate. They don’t care who you are or what you’re doing or what your status in life is or where you live — none of that,” he says. “When you open yourself up to them, they’re going to come in. So if you do that, then you’re going to suffer the consequences of what goes along with it.”

For those dark years, Smokey suffered those consequences.

“I was a walking corpse,” he says.

At the time, however, Smokey was in denial about how addiction was affecting him and believed he was managing his drug use just fine. His friends and family all tried to intervene, but Smokey wasn’t having it. Then, one of his closest friends, Leon Kennedy, stepped in.

“When I was doing the drugs like that, I was ducking everybody,” Smokey says. “So [Leon] came to my house one night, and he looks at me and he said, ‘Man, you look terrible. I heard you were doing this, but I haven’t been able to find you . You’ve been ducking me, and you don’t ever duck me… Why are you doing this?'”

Smokey dismissed his friend’s concerns and again insisted that he was fine. Leon persisted.

“He said, ‘Sit down. I’m going to pray for you,'” Smokey says. “He prayed for me [for] probably five hours, without stopping… He just prayed for me.”

Leon wouldn’t leave Smokey’s home and instead came up with a clear plan to help his friend. “He said, ‘I’m staying here tonight, man, and tomorrow night, I’m taking you to a prayer service that I go to,'” Smokey recalls.

Already feeling the two-plus-years of drugs taking its toll, Smokey agreed.

“I was done with me anyway,” he says. “I could not stand me at that point.”

In the video below, Smokey reveals what happened during that prayer service, including the incredibly profound spiritual moment that he says changed everything.


“Oprah’s Master Class” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on OWN.

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