Smokey Robinson, 81, details scary COVID battle: 'I could've died'

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read

Smokey Robinson nearly died from COVID-19 last year.

The legendary Motown singer, 81, said it was "touch and go" after contracting the virus in December and being hospitalized. The illness also "took my voice," he said, leaving the Grammy winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee fearful he'd never sing again.

"I am a COVID survivor," the Miracles singer told Daily Mail. "I got it severely and I was hospitalized for 11 days — and four or five of those I do not even remember. It really was touch and go and a terribly debilitating ailment."

He said it was just before Christmas when he returned home from the road feeling sick. The first COVID test he took was negative, but two days later he was even sicker. He tested again and it was positive.

Robinson said at first, he moved to his guest house to avoid exposing his wife. However, 48 hours after that, his condition worsened and he was having trouble breathing.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 09: Smokey Robinson attends the 28th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party sponsored by IMDb, Neuro Drinks and Walmart on February 09, 2020 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for EJAF)
Smokey Robinson at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party in February 2020. (Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for EJAF)

"It was over, man," he said. "They had to rush me to the hospital."

He felt fortunate that he never needed to be put on a ventilator. But COVID "wiped me out," he said. "I lost all my energy and could not walk from the bed to the bathroom without being exhausted." 

He said doctors told him he was "lucky" he was in good shape physically for his age to withstand what COVID did to his body. His positive mindset helped too with him noting: "When I was there trying to get well while weak, I never thought about dying. I was thinking: I am going to get well."

He was released from the hospital and returned home happy to be alive, but he could barely talk.

"I was not sure that I would ever be able to sing again because it took my voice," he revealed. 

He called the battle to regain his singing voice "one of the most frightening fights I have ever had." But he got right to work rebuilding his vocal strength.

He said his first show back post-COVID, he could sing for just 40 minutes. Now, he's back to two-hour shows.

Robinson — now fully vaccinated — said he's also upped his fitness routine. For the last 40 years, he's worked out two to three days a week.

"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," he said.

He added that it's taken months for him to fully absorb what he's been through the last 10 months. 

"It sounds weird, I know, but the severity of my condition didn't hit me until it was over," he said. "I looked back and knew that I could've died... It was that severe. Then it scared me."

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