- Got his nickname from an uncle who took him to cowboy films as a child and called him by the "cowboy name" of "Smokey Joe."
- Although he has co-authored such soul classics as "Ooo Baby Baby" and "Tracks of My Tears," which he performed with the Miracles, and the Temptations' "My Girl," he has only won one Grammy (in addition to a Grammy Living Legend award).
- Had 27 Top 40 hits with the Miracles, and wrote hits for such artists as Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Mary Wells and the Marvelettes.
- Named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
- Received a National Medal of Arts honor in 2002.
- Became a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1990.
- in 2009, received an honorary doctorate degree from Berklee College of Music, where he gave the commencement speech. That same year, he and The Miracles were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.