Willie Mitchell is a soul, R&B;, rock and roll, pop and funk music producer and arranger who runs Royal Recording in Memphis, Tennessee. He is 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, Syl Johnson and Ann Peebles.
Mitchell grew up in Ashland, Mississippi, and 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 saxophonists Booker Little, Charles Lloyd, and George Coleman, and pianist Phineas Newborn, Jr.
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 kick drum sound (usually played by pioneering...