Best known as the man who signed Al Green to Hi Records and as the producer of Green's most popular records, Willie Mitchell had a successful recording career of his own during the mid-'60s before meeting Green. Born on March 23, 1928, in Ashland, MS, Mitchell was raised in Memphis, TN, and began studying music and arranging at an early age, taking up the trumpet at the age of eight and learning from pianist Ozie Horn (as well as drawing from such influences as Roy Eldridge and Harry James). After he was discharged from the Army in 1954, Mitchell moved back to Memphis, where he soon became a popular, local trumpet-playing bandleader -- including Elvis Presley hiring the big band to play several private parties. By 1959, Mitchell had turned his attention to studio work and he signed on with Hi Records; he is often credited as being the creator of the oft-copied and instantly recognizable Hi sound (churning organ fills, sturdy horn arrangements, a steady 4/4 drumbeat, etc.).