Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Willie Mitchell 1928-2010

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Willie Mitchell
March 1, 1928 - January 5, 2010

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Obituary By The Recording Academy

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Willie Mitchell.

An accomplished trumpeter who led one of the region's premier bands of the '50s, he made the transition to recording star at Hi Records in the '60s. At Hi he became a vital part of the organization by engineering, producing, scouting talent and eventually running the label. A true renaissance man, Willie Mitchell created his own Memphis sound - a uniquely sophisticated brand of funk.

He put together one of the world's greatest rhythm sections - Hi Rhythm – featuring Teenie Hodges on guitar, Charles Hodges on organ, Leroy Hodges on bass and drummer Howard Grimes. He made stars of Ann Peebles, Otis Clay, O.V. Wright and Syl Johnson, creating recordings still revered, covered and sampled to this day.

In 1969 while on tour with his Willie Mitchell Band, he met a young singer from Michigan in Midland, Texas and brought him back to Memphis. Together, he and Al Green made history, creating an unparalleled body of work featuring arguably the greatest voice in soul backed by Mitchell's unique mix of gritty southern R&B and elegant arrangements.

In 2007 he was recognized by the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy at The Recording Academy Honors. In 2008 he received an even larger honor from The Recording Academy at the 50th annual GRAMMY Awards - The Trustees Award.

His impact on Memphis and music is immeasurable. There will probably never be another one like him.

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