It's June 2007, and Willie Mitchell is where he's been for most of the past five decades: inside Royal Studio, his longtime South Memphis digs. Little has changed inside these wonderfully funky walls since Mitchell's 1970s heyday -- only now the building is located on a street that bears his name.If you got this far, you'll want to read the rest.
Today, like most days, you can glimpse Mitchell in the foyer, where he sits fondling a small keyboard on his desk. Looking impossibly young for his 79 years, he's still sharp, funny, and continues to work the kind of long hours that seem unthinkable for a man his age.
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Even today, Mitchell remains a hands-on presence during sessions at Royal. "Well, I tell any guy who comes in here, if you want me to do it, then I'm gonna do it. If you want to do it, you can do it somewhere else. Simple as that," says Mitchell.
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"Memphis don't give a ****," he says. "Man, you can call up and say I'm Willie Mitchell, I need a hamburger. They'll say, 'Well, go buy the S.O.B. yourself then.'"
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While Memphis may not care, famous musicians still come from far and wide to pay their respects to Mitchell.
"I had a man from England come here and kiss my feet," says Mitchell, "What was his name, Boo?"
"Which one?" asks Mitchell's grandson.
"The one ... Albert ... Costello. Elvis Costello," says Mitchell. "He kissed my feet, and I said who is this crazy man?"
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