Perhaps best known in recent years as a pro audio dealer/broker, Sye Mitchell passed away after a bout with lung cancer on April 28, 2006.
Born in Chicago in 1937, Mitchell was originally an actor who set his sights west, moving to Los Angeles in 1955 and appearing in live television and series such as Playhouse 90. His interest in audio production got the best of him and in the early ’60s, he started Talent Records, a short-lived small label, working with artists such as bluesman Ben Harper.
Later Mitchell began engineering for major label projects—mainly for Columbia, but also Motown and others. Among his credits are well-known singles including The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love,” The 4 Tops’ “It’s the Same Old Song,” The Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction,” Brenton Wood’s “Gimme Little Sign,” Lou Rawl’s “She’s Gone,” Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover,” Bobbi Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe,” The Buckinghams’ “Kind of a Drag,” Redbone’s “Witch Queen of New Orleans” and “Come and Get Your Love,” Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way” and “ABC” for the Jackson Five. Mitchell’s album credits include top acts like Barbra Streisand (Stoney End and Barbra Joan Streisand), Janis Joplin (I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!) and Chicago (Chicago 3). Mitchell also received a Grammy nomination for engineering Gene Page’s disco single of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
From 1973 to 1977 Mitchell also served on the Board of Governors and as First Vice President of NARAS, and was active in AFTRA, SAG and AES. Moving from engineering into the hardware side of the business, he founded Sye Mitchell Sound in 1979, building the business into a successful boutique brokerage in Woodland Hills, Calif., specializing in selling classic consoles, outboard gear and microphones.
Returning into the studio to produce singer Linda Lanier, Mitchell was recently shopping three completed tracks. He is survived by his widow, Ina Mitchell, and son Sean Someroff, and will be remembered for his optimism and joy for life. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in the name of Sye Mitchell to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, www.wish.org .