News: Renowned Al Green Producer Willie Mitchell Passes

Wednesday, Jan 6, 2010 11:00AM

Written by Rosario Harper

Renowned soul producer Willie Mitchell has passed away this week due to medical complications related to cardiac arrest in late December.

According to reports, the legend died on Tuesday (January 5).

Willie Mitchell, the Memphis producer whose percussive, string-and-horn-tinged R&B sound shaped '70s hits by such artists as Al Green and Ann Peebles, died Tuesday. He was 81. Mitchell had been having health problems and went into cardiac arrest in December, according to his grandson, Lawrence. Mitchell "was doing music all the way till he couldn't," his grandson, whom Mitchell helped raise, said. He worked on Rod Stewart's most recent album, "Soulbook," as well as Solomon Burke's forthcoming CD. (CNN)

His popularity gained a strong boost in the 1970's with singing icon Al Green.

Mitchell was the man behind most of Al Green's most famous records. He started out as a bandleader in the 50s, and in the 60s, he signed with Hi Records, releasing a number of solo records and establishing the label's signature organ-drenched sound. In 1970, Mitchell took over running the label. He signed Al Green and worked with Green throughout the 70s, producing stone classics like "Let's Stay Together" and "Tired of Being Alone". In 2003, Mitchell and Green reunited for the album I Can't Stop. (Pitch Fork)

Both artists later hooked up for additional joint records.

Other Mitchell-Green collaborations that reached the apex of the R&B chart included "I'm Still in Love With You," "You Ought to Be With Me," "Livin' for You," "L-O-V-E" and "Full of Fire." Mitchell and Green reunited for the albums "Going Away" (1986), "I Can't Stop" (2003) and "Everything's OK" (2005). (Variety)

Prior to his passing, Mitchell put together a few compilation albums.

The late '90s saw several Mitchell compilations crop up (1998's Hi Masters and 1999's Soul Serenade: The Best of Willie Mitchell), which continued into the early 21st century with a double-disc anthology, Poppa Willie: The Hi Years, 1962-1974, as well as a pair of two-for-one CD releases (It's What's Happenin'/The Hit Sound of Willie Mitchell and Soul Serenade/Willie Mitchell Live). In addition to his many musical accomplishments, Mitchell also owns and operates the Royal Recording Studio in Memphis, TN. (All Music)

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