R.I.P. Willie Mitchell

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 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. Although its legacy has been less celebrated than those of Stax or Sun, two other pioneering record labels that got started in Memphis in the 1950s, Hi was an integral part of the development of the Memphis soul sound, and Mr. Mitchell is widely credited as one of its architects.

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Setlist Architect/Art Scene Checker-Outer/Sound Feeler
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