The Love-Tones

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Everybody has heard the Love-Tones doing their soul/pop backing blends behind Mary Wells. They helped make Wells' "The One Who Really Loves You," "You Beat Me to the Punch," "Operator," "Laughing Boy,"…
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Everybody has heard the Love-Tones doing their soul/pop backing blends behind Mary Wells. They helped make Wells' "The One Who Really Loves You," "You Beat Me to the Punch," "Operator," "Laughing Boy," and other unforgettable classics that get better with time. Unlike other backing groups at Motown (i.e. the Originals and the Andantes), the Love-Tones usually received credit on the label.

Their exact lineup on various recordings remains a well-kept secret, and it's apparent that members changed frequently. In her tell-all book Berry, Me, and Motown, Raynoma Singleton-Gordy described them as a "group of three boys." However, at one time or another the members included: Carl Jones (lead), William "Mickey" Stevenson (tenor), Joe Miles (baritone), and Stan Bracely (bass); Bracely and Jones (deceased) sang with the Teardrops on "Come Back to Me" b/w "Sweet Lovin' Daddy-O" on Sampson Records in 1952; they were hardly young boys in 1962.

As the Love-Tones they recorded "Talk to an Angel" written by Joe E. Hunter b/w "Take It Easy, Baby," a Sax Kari composition for Plus Records in 1956, and "When I Asked My Love" b/w "You Can Tell That This Is Christmas" on Love-Tone Records early in 1962. They accompanied Henry Lumpkin on his December 1961 Motown release "What Is a Man" b/w "Don't Leave Me," which started their ball rolling at Hitsville U.S.A.

Signed as artists, Motown recorded them but never issued any Love-Tones' singles; they already were bombing out with the Satintones and were looking for a fresher sound then the doo wop and modern harmony schooled singers. Label credits were given for their work on Marvin Gaye's "Soldier Plea" (5/62), Lumpkin's original rendition of "Mo Jo Hanna" (7/62), Marv Johnson's "Let Yourself Go" b/w "That's When I Lost My Baby" on United Artists Records (7/62), Geno Park's "For This I Thank You" (8/62), a credit on Gaye's "Hitchhike" and "Pride and Joy" but no credits for contributions to Gaye's "Hello There Angel" and "One of These Days."

After 1962, the Love-Tones dropped off the face of the earth and were never heard from again until Ian Levine resurrected the name with Bracely, Burford Glanton, (Will Harvey and Robert Walker and recorded them for his Motor City Records project. Levine released a ten-song CD on them entitled Turn This Heart Around that contain eight original songs (including "Fire Alarm" written by Levine, Sylvia Moy, and Steven Wagner) and two remakes: Billy Stewart's "Sitting in the Park" and The Charades' "Key to My Happiness." Only Mickey Stevenson became a success in music, he became the head of Motown's Artist & Repertoire Department, married Agatha "Kim" Weston, and wrote some quintessential songs for a variety of Motown artists, including the Four Tops, the Spinners, Martha & the Vandellas, and the Marvelettes. He continued his music career after leaving Motown.