NEW YORK, DECEMBER 3, 2020 — Downtown Music Publishing today announced that it has acquired the rights to music from the catalog of legendary songwriter and record producer William “Mickey” Stevenson. The former head of Motown A&R was not only responsible for signing talent like Martha Reeves, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and The Four Tops, and recruiting the label’s famed studio band after joining in 1959, but also penning classic songs for Eddie Holland, Gaye, Kim Weston, The Supremes, The Temptations and many others. Berry Gordy, the iconic music industry executive and founder of Motown Records, has publicly credited Stevenson as “one of the greatest creative forces during [Motown’s] formative years.”
“I’m beyond excited to partner with Downtown,” said Mickey Stevenson of the deal. “Our partnership covers many songs that are near and dear to me, and I have full confidence that my creative legacy is in good hands.”
Included in the acquired catalog is the enduring hit “Dancing In The Street,” co-written with Stevenson’s frequent collaborators Gaye and Ivy Jo Hunter. Originally released by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, the song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964 and has been notably covered by David Bowie and Mick Jagger, Van Halen, Grateful Dead, Little Richard, The Mamas & The Papas, Tages and The Kinks since.
Songs by Andre Williams, Carolyn Crawford, The Contours, Cornell Blakely, Debbie Dean, Don McKenzie, The Equadors, Gino Parks, Hattie Littles, Herman Griffin, Jimmy Ruffin, Lee & The Leopards, Mable John, The Marvelettes, Mary Wells, Mike & The Modifiers, The Miracles, The Morrocco Muzik Makers, The Mysterions, Sammy Ward, Shorty Long, The Spinners, Tommy Good and the Velvelettes, among others, were included in the acquisition as well.
"Opportunities to work with a catalog of this caliber don’t come around that often. It is a genuine privilege to work with someone like Mickey, who is not only an important songwriter, but a pivotal figure in the musical legacy of Motown. Beyond songwriting, Mickey’s contributions as the head of Motown A&R in the 1960s and his establishment of Motown’s studio band, The Funk Brothers, helped to cultivate the ‘Motown Sound’ that is foundational to pop music,” said Mike Smith, Global President of Downtown Music Publishing.
“I’m from Detroit, so Mickey’s songs were part of the soundtrack of my youth,” added Downtown Music Holdings’ Senior Vice President of Global Business Development Bruce Lampcov who managed the deal on Downtown’s behalf. “One of the all-time great record producers, songwriters and A&R people, he is someone by whom I have been inspired throughout my own career, and it is an honor to be entrusted with his iconic catalog.”
The preferred publishing partner for some of the world’s most beloved songwriters, Downtown adds the “Mickey” Stevenson songbook to its catalog of represented works alongside those of other prolific legends such as Miles Davis, George Gershwin, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Booker T. Jones and Wu-Tang Clan. Earlier this year, the company announced its acquisition of Good Soldier Songs, including the catalog of The 1975.