Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Billy Mitchell Dies at 74

Bebop tenor saxophonist Billy Mitchell, who played in the bands of Woody Herman, Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie, died on April 18 from lung cancer at his home in Rockville Center, N.Y. He was 74.

Originally from Missouri, Mitchell moved to Michigan in the ’50s to play in bassist Nat Towles’ band. He played with Gillespie in 1956 and 1957, before playing in Basie’s band from 1957 to 1961.

For 34 years, Mitchell was the resident star of one of the few suburban jazz strongholds, Sonny’s Place in Seaford, N.Y. He also recorded 10 albums as a leader, mostly for the Xanadu and Smash labels. Mitchell retired in 1997, when Sonny’s closed.

Originally Published