Willie Mitchell: American record producer and arranger (born: 1928 - died: 2010) | Biography
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Willie Mitchell
American record producer and arranger

Willie Mitchell

Willie Mitchell
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American record producer and arranger
A.K.A. Willie L. Mitchell
Was Record producer Musician Trumpeter Bandmaster Conductor Songwriter
From United States of America
Field Business Music
Gender male
Birth 1 March 1928, Ashland, Benton County, Mississippi, USA
Death 5 January 2010, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA (aged 81 years)
Star sign Pisces
Rust College
Grammy Trustees Award 2008
Rhythm and blues
Willie Mitchell
The details (from wikipedia)


William Lawrence Mitchell (March 1, 1928 – January 5, 2010) was an American trumpeter, bandleader, soul, R&B, rock and roll, pop and funk record producer and arranger who ran Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. He was best known for his Hi Records label of the 1970s, which released albums by a large stable of popular Memphis soul artists, including Mitchell himself, Al Green, O. V. Wright, Syl Johnson, Ann Peebles and Quiet Elegance.


Born and raised in Ashland, Mississippi, Mitchell moved to Memphis when he was in high school. He attended Rust College. At the age of eight, he began to play the trumpet. While in high school, he was a featured player in popular local big bands. He later formed his own combo, which from time to time included musicians such as trumpeter Booker Little, saxophonists Charles Lloyd, and George Coleman, and pianist Phineas Newborn, Jr.

Mississippi Blues Trail marker dedicated to Mitchell in Ashland

Mitchell landed a job with the Home of the Blues record label as a producer, then left to join Hi Records as both a recording artist and a producer.

Known at the recording studio as "Papa Willie", Mitchell earned his nickname by taking over the reins of Hi Records in 1970 and guiding it through its most successful period. Mitchell's productions have been much noted for featuring a hard-hitting bass drum sound (usually played by pioneering Memphis drummer Al Jackson, Jr. of Booker T. & the M.G.'s).

A trumpeter and bandleader in his own right, Mitchell released a number of popular singles for Hi Records as an artist in the 1960s, including "Soul Serenade." It peaked at number 43 in the UK Singles Chart in April 1968.

Through the 1980s, Mitchell ran his own independent record label, Waylo Records. Acts on the label included Billy Always and Lynn White.

In 1987, Joyce Cobb recorded several singles for Waylo, one of which made it to No. 3 on the British R&B chart: "Another Lonely Night (Without You)", while in 1987, Mitchell worked on a version of Wet Wet Wet's debut album, which was issued in 1988 as The Memphis Sessions.

He and Al Green revived their successful recording partnership in 2003 when Green recorded I Can't Stop, his first collaboration with Mitchell since 1985's He is the Light. Their 2005 follow-up project was Everything's OK.

Mitchell died in Memphis on January 5, 2010, from a cardiac arrest.

His final work was producing the final Solomon Burke studio album, Nothing's Impossible, released in June 2010.


  • 1963: Sunrise Serenade
  • 1964: 20-75
  • 1965: It's Dance Time
  • 1966: It's What's Happenin'
  • 1966: The Hit Sound Of Willie Mitchell
  • 1967: Ooh Baby, You Turn Me On
  • 1968: Willie Mitchell Live at the Royal
  • 1968: Soul Serenade
  • 1969: On Top
  • 1969: Solid Soul
  • 1969: Soul Bag
  • 1970: Robbin's Nest
  • 1970: The Many Moods of Willie Mitchell
  • 1971: Hold It
  • 1971: Listen Dance
  • 1977: Willie Mitchell Live
  • 1981: Willie Willie Willie
  • 1986: That Driving Beat
  • 2001: Poppa Willie The Hi Years / 1962-74
  • 2003: Walkin' With Willie
  • 2008: Best Damn Fool (with Buddy Guy)


Year Title Chart positions
1964 "20-75" 31 32 32
"Percolatin'" 85
1965 "Buster Browne" 96 29
"Everything Is Gonna Be Alright" 126
1966 "Bad Eye" 92 23
"Mercy" 127
1967 "Slippin' and Slidin'" 96
1968 "Soul Serenade" 23 10 21 43
"Prayer Meetin'" 45 23 79
"Up-Hard" 91
1969 "30-60-90" 69 31 90
"Young People" 120
"My Babe" 115 37
1976 "The Champion" 47
  • "Soul Serenade" peaked at number 32 on Billboard Adult Contemporary chart
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 27 Oct 2021. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Willie Mitchell known for?
A: Willie Mitchell is known for being a prolific American musician, record producer, and arranger. He is particularly recognized for his work in the soul and R&B genres.
Q: When was Willie Mitchell born?
A: Willie Mitchell was born on March 23, 1928.
Q: Where was Willie Mitchell born and raised?
A: Willie Mitchell was born and raised in Ashland, Mississippi, United States.
Q: What instruments does Willie Mitchell play?
A: Willie Mitchell played various instruments, including the trumpet, trombone, vibraphone, and high-hat cymbal.
Q: Did Willie Mitchell achieve any notable accomplishments in his career?
A: Yes, Willie Mitchell achieved several notable accomplishments in his career. He was the house bandleader and producer for Hi Records, where he worked with artists such as Al Green. He also produced many popular songs, including "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green, which became a hit in the early 1970s. Additionally, he played a significant role in shaping the Hi Records sound, which was influential in the soul and R&B music scene.
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