Something about Willie (Willie Mitchell R.I.P)

Something about Willie (Willie Mitchell R.I.P)This piece was submitted by our own "Enorman." IMHO it is the most heartfelt thing that I have seen written about Willie Mitchell since his passing a few days ago. SIDE NOTE: The last artist that Willie Mitchell produced was our own Toni Green, whom a few of you all may remember from the Soul-Patrol Digital/Virtual Album 1.0 (now out of print)

Calling Willie Mitchell a producer without putting the word legendary in front of it is like calling Emeril Lagase a cook, like calling Muhammad Ali a fighter, Martin Luther King a preacher. All these men in whatever field they were in were all much more than that simple description. Willie Mitchell the Trumpet master, the man who is credited with Al Greens vocal style and development of Hi records into a soul music staple. Papa Willie Mitchell of "Soul Serenade" fame. Papa Willie Mitchell who is as identifiable in Memphis Tenn. as Beale Street. Musicians who have benefitted from the extraordinary ear of "Papa" have been Syl Johnson, Preston Shannon, Otis Clay, O.V Wright, and of course Willie Mitchell's other favorite instrument Al Green. At 80 years of age the owner and operator of another Memphis landmark the Royal Recording Studio is still a major influence of artist looking for a leg up in their careers. With several health issues over the years he continues to be influential in the careers of the up and coming and veterans of the music industry. ....

One of my favorite old sayings is "give flowers while they can enjoy them" and this is a case of a man making a huge mark in his chosen profession, a mark that has tattooed itself to many who have had the benefit of his counsel and guidance. To not honor this man for his life's work when he has earned the respect and reverence of those who have not only enjoyed his efforts as fans but have reaped the financial benefits of his sweat and genius. Now is the time to wine and dine him , and bestow upon him gifts of gold and silver whether that is a trophy, a plaque, a gold watch, a bust, or a caddilac of his choice it does not matter how you honor him, HONOR him for making the world better for us even if it was for the short time it took for a Al Green 45rpm to play. How many people in life are given the gift to make us happy for any period of time, and to do it over and over is quite an achievement.....

Al Green has praised Willie Mitchell and his discipline and commitment to musical excellence in several interviews over the years. Al Green himself has been given a flower or two over the years and even recently the Grammys asked him to perform with another Memphis superstar Justin Timberlake. The performance at the Bet Awards by Maxwell singing "simply beautiful", for this writer is a seminal moment in time that Rev Al greatly deserves. Not speaking for Al Green but it would be hard to understand if he too did not agree that the man who is responsible for his biggest and most legendary hits is not overlooked and underappreciated in today's musical landscape. Just the other day a Lady with a big voice and bigger talent named Toni Green was in studio recording when Papa Willie walked in and laid down a talk that from what I have been told let everyone in the room know that it was his intention to help lay down the best effort for this singer who he feels deserves the best . These are my words here, and she is long overdue in the area of respect for her talent and determination for hanging in there in a business that is sometime cruel and unforgiving. I think any artist would be and should consider their selves extremely blessed to have the stamp of approval from anyone with the resume of this man.....

I like to write about people in the music business because there are some of the best people I have ever met in my entire lifetime, in this business. Singers, songwriters, producers, promotions people (notice I did not say label owners. Lol) I have met some great people amongst them. I have never met Mr. Willie Mitchell and I never been to Memphis. As a youngster while growing up in Ohio I remember when in the mid and late 1960's and the 70's when there were few tall buildings and communications towers meaning no cell phones and internet and cable television and all the stuff that has made idiots of us all from time to time (darn video games). We could, at night tune in our radios and reach stations from as far northeast as New York City and I could hear Frankie Crocker. From the south I could hear stations in Nashville and Memphis and along with that sweet soul music I could swear some nights I could smell that barbeque too! At this time in my life I did not know about producers just singers and songs.....

So like many of you who really dig the music and go farther than just the cd player to appreciate it, like reading a book on the subject or talking to folks who know a little something about it and the people who live and breathe life into it. If you are one of those folks who know stuff like the same guys who gave you "Flashlight" gave you "I just wanna Testify and who figure the first mistake the new President made was choosing Beyonce over Etta James to sing "At Last" are the folks I write for, because you get it. You get that Willie Mitchell is one of the cats that built the Memphis Sound as we know and love it today. You get that Willie gave us the Al Green we know today and still love. You also get that Preachers Preach, Teachers Teach, and Producers Produce and some folks do all 3. So give Papa Willie Mitchell his bouquets, today. While you're at it make em ROSES! Yeah I said it!....

--Enorman


--Bob Davis
609-351-0154
earthjuice@prodigy.net






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