[William “Mickey” Stevenson showed up at Hitsville [a.k.a. Motown] for an audition one day with an official-looking briefcase and a big, easy grin. Sharply dressed, hip, fast-talking, Mickey was street, much more street than I was. I could see he was an Eastside graduate while I was still sort of that Westside boy at heart. I liked him a lot. Then he sang a song. I liked him less. “Your singing is okay,” I said, “But I just don’t need another singer right now. What I really need is an A&R director. Can you do that?” Motown Founder Berry Gordy from his book “To Be Loved.”]
Thus began the career of William “Mickey” Stevenson at legendary Motown records. In his recently published self-penned book titled ‘Motown’s First A &R Man Presents The A & R Man,’ Stevenson offers some straight-no-chaser revelations about his Motown experience – shining light on the love, hate and heartbreak embraced and endured by himself and other unsung heroes of Hitsville.
In addition to his A&R duties, Stevenson wrote and produced many hit records for Motown, some with co-writer and producer Ivy Jo Hunter. They included his biggest success, “Dancing in the Street” which he co-wrote with Hunter and Marvin Gaye; “It Takes Two” (with Gaye and Kim Weston [Stevenson’s former wife]); “Ask the Lonely” for the Four Tops; Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted;” “My Baby Loves Me” Martha & The Vandellas; “Can You Jerk Like Me” by The Contours; “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” for Stevie Wonder and Gaye’s “Stubborn Kind of Fellow.” He also wrote “Devil with the Blue Dress On” in 1964 with Shorty Long, which became a hit for Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels in 1966.
Probably more important than all was Stevenson’s success in organizing and establishing Motown’s in-house band now famously known as The Funk Brothers.