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Willie Mitchell, Soul Music Producer, Dies at 81

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member

The Willie Mitchell sound — prominent horns, delicately strummed guitars, some sweet organ and a steady, straightforward beat — is instantly recognizable on records by singers like Mr. Green, Ms. Peebles, Syl Johnson and O. V. Wright, and on the instrumentals Mr. Mitchell recorded as a bandleader. Both raw and sensuous, it became Hi’s signature sound as the label rose to prominence with Mr. Green in the 1970s.


Artist in residence
Distinguished Member
I worked opposite of the Willie Mitchell band at the old Thunderbird in Vegas back in the '70s. We'd pass each other in the casino on the way to our gigs and we'd stop and pass the time of day. I was grateful for our conversations...I knew that he was a driving force behind the Memphis sound.
I was also a bit surprised to see that the horn instrumentation he used on at least some of the Al Green hits was trumpet and baritone saxophone. The bari stayed in the middle register, so it recorded like a tenor, but had a different presence. A little fatter. Check out "Let's Stay Together." I'm pretty sure that's bari and trumpet.
Willie was slick.

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