Willie Mitchell, Soul Music Producer, Dies at 81

January 6, 2010


Willie Mitchell, who shaped the elegant yet gritty sound of Al Green, Ann Peebles and other stars of soul music as the house producer at Hi Records in the 1960s and ’70s, died Tuesday in Memphis, where he lived. He was 81.

The cause was cardiac arrest, his son Lawrence said.

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.

The Obituary continues here at the NYTIMES.COM.

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