Bobby Mitchell – Biography, Songs, Albums, & Facts

Bobby Mitchell – Biography, Songs, Albums, & Facts
Bobby Mitchell 2010. Image source: Erik Drost, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Bobby Mitchell Biography

In the aftermath of Fats Domino and Lloyd Price, a new generation of New Orleans rock and rollers, including Bobby Mitchell & the Toppers, emerged. Mitchell remained a well-liked figure in New Orleans R&B for 35 years despite the group’s limited success (their best-known song, “Try Rock ‘n Roll,” climbed into the R&B Top 20 nationally, and “I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday” was a smash in many localities without ever charting nationally). The group disbanded in 1954.

In a family that made its living by fishing the Mississippi River, Bobby Mitchell was born in Algiers, Louisiana, as the second eldest of what would eventually number 17 children. Mitchell helped support the family by cutting and selling wood. He began singing while hanging out at the liquor store where he worked as a delivery boy when he was eleven years old. Because of how well he performed, onlookers offered him nickels and dimes.

Mitchell participated in school football up until an injury forced him to retire, at which point he joined the choir. The music teacher had already given him solos on songs like “Ol’ Man River” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by the time he had finished school. He joined his first singing group, the Louisiana Groovers, at the age of 17. By that point, Roy Brown’s sound in particular and R&B in general had a strong hold on Mitchell.

Mitchell’s first original song was “One Friday Morning,” a ballad in the doo wop style that he recorded as a demo with the assistance of a teacher who had a tape recorder (still a relative rarity in 1952). The Toppers, a backup group made up of Gabriel Fleming (bass), Willie Bridges (baritone), Frank Bocage (bass), Lloyd Bellaire (tenor), and Joseph Butler, were formed as a result of that tape garnering notice at a local radio station (piano). They were vocally influenced by groups like Clyde McPhatter and the Dominoes, but they also listened to Roy Hamilton and Nat King Cole songs. One factor that prevented them from coming up with a firmer direction of their own at the time was their youth — Mitchell was barely 17 at the time.

They eventually met producer Dave Bartholomew, who encouraged them to record some demos for Imperial Records. The gang complied with the request, but it seemed unlikely that things would turn out well at the time. The six of them were traveling an average of eight miles each way to Bartholomew’s studio to practice, but Imperial ultimately only wanted Mitchell when the singer insisted that it was either all of them or nothing. In the interim, the group had its first original song, “Rack ‘Em Back,” composed by Joe Butler up reaction to the pranks they pulled on those protracted walks. Bartholomew eventually gave in.

His subsequent album, “Nothing Sweet as You”/”I Wish I Knew,” failed to reach the top 40 despite the regional success of “My Baby’s Gone,” which was never replicated nationwide. In 1955, Mitchell was not working in the studio. Early in 1956, he started recording again with the song “Try Rock ‘n Roll,” which was written to capitalize on the now-popular music genre’s name and style. Although it performed much better in some locations than it did nationally, the song peaked at number 14 on the Billboard R&B chart, and Mitchell was being booked for all-star concerts in cities like New York and Los Angeles.

Mitchell’s occasional success on Imperial came to an end in 1958 when the label dropped everyone but Fats Domino of its New Orleans performers. In an effort to support his wife and her three children from a previous marriage, he continued to perform and record. In the early 1960s, he signed with a number of smaller labels and collaborated with Dr. John along the way. The couple had eight kids by the middle of the 1960s, and Mitchell’s career had hit a dead end. He continued to perform live in Houston and Mobile, but his records weren’t selling. He briefly signed back with Imperial Records before switching to Rip Records, where he had previously recorded a few singles. Even though Mitchell’s sides for Rip and Sho-Biz included some of his best tunes, they went mostly ignored.

His heart attack in the early 1960s ended his career as a traveling musician. For the following 29 years, Mitchell remained a well-known musician in New Orleans, where he kept up his performances and gradually gained new fans. Toward the end of his life, I’m Gonna Be a Wheel, a reissue LP, brought in the first revenue from his original Imperial recordings. Mitchell rose to prominence as one of New Orleans’ most prominent and promising 1950s veterans. After years of deteriorating ailments, such as diabetes, kidney failure, and two additional heart attacks, he passed away in 1989.



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Frequently Asked Questions

When Was Bobby Mitchell Most Popular?

Bobby Mitchell was most popular during his time with the Washington Redskins, where he played from 1958 to 1968. During his time with the team, he was an All-Pro receiver four times and helped the team win two NFL Championships. After his playing career, he became a successful businessman and philanthropist. He passed away in 2020 at the age of 84.

What Is Bobby Mitchell’s Best Album?

Bobby Mitchell’s best album is undoubtedly “The Bobby Mitchell Story.” This album chronicles his rise to fame and features some of his most popular songs, including “Ain’t Misbehavin'” and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” It is a must-have for any fan of classic jazz and pop music.

What Genre Is Bobby Mitchell?

Bobby Mitchell is an R&B and soul singer.

Is Bobby Mitchell In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?

Yes, Bobby Mitchell is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 1987 as a member of the Induction Committee.

What Is Bobby Mitchell’s Best Song?

Bobby Mitchell’s best song is “I Can’t Stop Loving You”. It was released in 1962 and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song has been covered by many artists, including Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, and Willie Nelson.

Most Searched For Bobby Mitchell Songs

I’m Gonna be a wheel somedaySpotifyAppleYouTubeAmazon
I am what I amSpotifyApple
Jesus Is A Helluva GuySpotifyAppleAmazon
Music In My SoulSpotifyAppleAmazon
I Can Hold OnSpotifyAppleAmazon
Gold DustSpotifyAppleAmazon
I already DoSpotifyApple