"Feelin' better, so much better, now I know that you're around" sang Al Green on “Glory, Glory”. He may have well been singing about his partner in rhythm and soul, Willie Mitchell. Never has a producer and artist gelled so effectively as that Green and Mitchell. His sparse, organic, often gritty arrangements defined the sound of early/mid ‘70’s soul and created masterpieces of raw emotion and all the pain, longing, lust and heartache contained therein that made much other music of the era seem churlish.
Much has been made of the Memphis sound that trademarked Hi Records but it was Mitchell’s sound - the fat, sassy horns stabs that punctuate his productions with all the drama of a killer whale breaking the ocean’s surface to catch a seal, the infectious percussive rhythms of the rim shot and high hat creating melodies of their own dancing around the bluesy guitar and the whirling flourishes of the Hammond B3, that excite and delight the production like a flash of upper thigh from a beautiful woman in a split skirt. It all worked so incredibly well.
When Mitchell, who was born in Ashland Miss., died on Tuesday January 5th aged 81, one of soul music’s true originators left his final session. Mitchell died at Methodist University Hospital at 7:25am, more than two weeks after he suffered cardiac arrest, December 19, according to his son Lawrence Mitchell.
Willie Mitchell owned Royal Studio where Buddy Guy, John Mayer and many others recorded. Though best known for his work with Al Green and Ann Peebles in the ‘70’s for his Hi Records label, in recent years Mitchell has worked with Mayer and Rod Stewart on his recent collection of soul music covers.
It’s our pleasure to present the two classic interviews with Willie Mitchell during his ‘70’s heyday from our very own David Nathan and John Abbey. Enjoy and remember and while you’re reading them try playing Al Green’s “For The Good Times”. Willie, you'll be missed.
About the Writer
Jeff Lorez has enjoyed a long and varied career in the music business. As a journalist he has written for a slew of publications and web sites including, Blues & Soul, Billboard, Yahoo.com and the Daily Telegraph and as a music publisher he has been involved in recent chart topping hits by Alexis Jordan and Cher Lloyd.