Robinson admitted to the affair in a new interview with The Guardian, telling the outlet that they were seeing each other for “about a year” during his marriage to his first wife, Claudette Rogers.
“I was married at the time. [Ross and I] were working together and it just happened. But it was beautiful,” he said. “She’s a beautiful lady, and I love her right til today. She’s one of my closest people. She was young and trying to get her career together.”
The 83-year-old explained that the relationship, “just happened.” He continued, “I was trying to help her. I brought her to Motown, in fact. I wasn’t going after her and she wasn’t going after me.”
His affair with Ross eventually ended due to guilt. “After we’d been seeing each other for a while, Diana said to me she couldn’t do that because she knew Claudette, and she knew I still loved my wife,” Robinson said. “And I did. I loved my wife very much.”
Robinson and Rogers got married in 1959 and later divorced in 1986. But his relationship with Ross expanded his thinking about love. “You asked me what happened when we get older, and we get wisdom in life. I learned that we are capable of loving more than one person at the same time. And it has been made taboo by us. By people,” he explained.
“It’s not because one person isn’t worthy or they don’t live up to what you expect—it has to do with feelings. If we could control love, nobody would love anybody. Nobody would take that chance. Why would you put your heart out there for somebody to be able to hurt you like that and make you able to have those feelings?”
Robinson later married his second wife, Frances Glandney in 2002. Ross has been married twice as well, first to Robert Ellis Silberstein from 1971 to 1977 and then to Arne Naess Jr. from 1985 to 2000.
Robinson released his first album in almost 10 years, Gasms, on Friday.