NEW YORK (AP) – Smokey Robinson, Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown were among the music legends being honored on the Apollo Theater’s new Walk of Fame in New York City. Workers on Monday, May 10, began installing sidewalk plaques in front of the storied Harlem theater celebrating some of the artists who have performed there. Others include the Jackson Five, Little Richard, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight and the Pips. “For me to have a plaque honoring me in front of the Apollo Theater is one of the proudest achievements in my life,” Robinson said. “I started out at the Apollo and it will always be a home to me.”
Robinson said he first performed at the Apollo with the Miracles in 1959, and he’s been back countless times since.
He told The Associated Press, “I always say, if they tear down 125th Street and everything on it, please leave the Apollo standing.”
Singer Patti LaBelle said she was grateful to be in the company of legendary performers.
“My career began at the Apollo, so I’m humbled to be able to be a part of its rich and continued legacy,” LaBelle said.
The Apollo’s marquee on Monday also paid tribute to legendary jazz singer and actress Lena Horne, who died Sunday at age 92.
“You name it, Lena Horne had it all, and she will remain as a standard of class and excellency in all of our hearts,” U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel said.
The Apollo, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, has been a pioneer for aspiring black performers who were routinely turned away at other venues in the 1930s. Through its legendary Amateur Night, the Apollo is famous for propelling the careers of Fitzgerald, Brown, Billie Holiday, Stevie Wonder, James Brown and others.
Plaques honoring new Hall of Fame inductees Michael Jackson and Fitzgerald will be installed after the Apollo’s annual Spring Gala in June.
Jackson and his brothers first performed at the Harlem theater in the late 1960s. The Jackson Five won its famed “Amateur Night,” which catapulted their career.