August 22, 2003 by

Grover Mitchell


Categories: Musicians

Grover Mitchell, a jazz trombonist who lead the Count Basie Orchestra, died on Aug. 6 of cancer. He was 73.
As a child growing up in Pittsburgh, Mitchell wanted to play the trumpet, but his band teacher said he had the arms of a trombone player. Mitchell protested until he heard Tommy Dorsey play, then he dedicated himself to learning the instrument.
Mitchell earned a degree in music from Empire State College, then moved to San Francisco to work with Earl “Fatha” Hines, Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington. He played in the Count Basie Orchestra from 1962 to 1970, and again from 1980 to 1984.
After Basie died, Mitchell was the third person tapped to lead the group. Under his guidance, the band recorded “Count Basie Orchestra With the New York Voices,” which won a Grammy in 1996 for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance.
During his years away from the Basie Orchestra, Mitchell played on the “Flip Wilson Show” and in the film, “Lady Sings the Blues.” He also led his own band, a 12-piece unit that produced five recordings and played in the Rainbow Room.
Read an Interview With Grover Mitchell

30 Responses to Grover Mitchell

  1. Dina

    I am not sure if I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Mitchell. Come to think of it. The probability of actually seeing him during a recording session is quite likely and for that, I am grateful.
    However, I can say that I have experienced, with untold pleasure, the honor of meeting his daughter, Ms. Gail Mitchell O’Brien.
    Gail is a lovely woman. Unsurpassed in beauty, talented, lovingly strong, and brillant in her own right.
    Very often she speaks of her dad in such a way, that brings tears to my eyes. Gail’s love for her dad is unmeasureable. She has shared with me countless great discoveries of Mr. Mitchell’s colorful legacy, that it is a wonder at times, that he is no longer here…
    Some folks say that people never truly die. They just simply pass on to another place. A world in which is beautiful and bountiful. A world whereby peace and harmony are not dictated by rules and laws. Humor, music and good health are abundant and ills and pains are a thing of the past.
    Should such a place await us all – then it is comforting to the living to rest assured that our loved ones are not forgotten. They’ve merely taken up a new residence. A place of glory and true riches over flowing.
    I want Mr. Mitchell’s daughter and family alike to know that he is in a safe place and he is with them always. The contributions of his music and grasp for life are testatments to his power and undisputed talents and respect for music and life.
    Lastly, I want to thank Gail again for sharing with me, the gifts of knowledgable stories and special moments as lived through the life and times of here dad… The lovely, and imcomparable, Mr. Grover Mitchell…
    Dina Nichols

  2. Jamie Mitchell

    I just happened onto this site.
    On behalf of Gail, Conor and Nathalie I, Jamie Mitchell, would like to pass on warmest regards to each of the fans, friends and well wishers for your kind thoughts and contributions to the memory of Grover Mitchell.

  3. Frank Blackley

    I was shocked when I read that Grover had passed-away. I was going to ask him questions about the Basie years.Click on Drummerworld and I think it’s Grover 1968/Basie.
    Met him after Basie Concert in Victoria,BC few years ago.Butch Miles on drums. What a great BASIE BAND. The COUNT would have been proud of how GROVER led the band. I’ve been a BASIE fan since the ’50’s with SONNY PAYNE & APRIL IN PARIS. We have lost a great musician. Frank Blackley,Victoria,B.C.

  4. Gail Mitchell

    Just wanted to mention a few things about my dad: Grover Mitchell was a jazz purist…
    He was a hands on dad and grandparent..
    He always spoke what was on his mind…
    He was maybe the funniest person on Earth..
    He was a life-long Pirates fan…
    He died as he lived… a gentleman…
    Not a second goes by dad…….

  5. Robert Mitchell Coke

    Grover Mitchell was one of my heros. His influence on my life was tremendous. He and his daughter Gail taught me to love jazz and the Allman Brothers. They taught me that fathers and daughters can have real relationships with each other. He would be happy to know that I married a musician.
    Gail, I am so sorry for your loss. I think of you both often.
    lots of love Robbi

  6. Curious

    I have a few questions about your father but i’m not quite sure if i should openly ask you on this blog.They are quite personal yet very relevant.Please let me know if there is a way to contact you so that i may find out what i need to.

  7. Cecelia L. Mitchell Lawrence

    I have know Uncle Grover all my life and I can remember all the Jazz music he and my dad David Mitchell listened to. I would like to offer my sweet memories to a man that always reminded me of my dad. To Gail, I live all the memories through his music.

  8. Christine Hogh

    Greetings to Gail, Conor and Nathalie O’Brien from England. I hope all is well with you – I’m sure Grover is watching over you.

  9. Robbi

    Dearest Gail,
    I always celebrate your Dad’s birthday on the 17th and yours on the 28th of March. So Happy Birthday from OZ. Still love ya girl, even though it has been almost 35 years since I last laid eyes on you. You can always ask Carol how to find me if you want to get in touch.
    love Robbi Mitchell Coke

  10. gail o'brien

    Dearest Robbi,
    I am so happy to see that you are still remembering my beloved Dad…I still miss him so much, and not a day goes by that I do not think of him. I still cannot believe that my dad would have been 77 years this year…it seems like yesterday that we were all kids, hanging around my house and yours…I only choose to remember the happy times…and you know what I mean!
    Love, Gail

  11. gail o'brien

    Hey Chris,
    I think my dad is thinking of you as of late…you’ve been on my mind like crazy! We are all doing just fine, I’m happy to report…but it hasn’t been easy getting to this point since my dad’s death!

  12. Emma L. Mitchell (Penny)

    Being here in the present, I would like to thank God, for the gifts of life. I feel blessed to know that Mr. Grover Mitchell was blood of my blood. Growing up, being surrounded by talent, laughter, cousins, birthdays in the month of March, lots and lots of love. Gifts! Wonderful Gifts! I won’t forget all the long talks on the phone. My memory is long. Like my dad David Mitchell, Greatest of the Great. Missing You! Penny.

  13. Stewart Strotheers

    I had lost contact with Grover over the years but he one my best friends, We started together in the beginners class in Westinghouse High School in Pgh.Pa. Me on Alto Sax and him on Trombone. We later played together in the Kadets ,the school jazz band with Fritzie Jones now Ahmad Jamal,Jerry and Gene Elliot, Pete Henderson,Hosea Taylor and many in agroup which called Jerry and the Collegians. So soery we did not get together.

  14. malik mcgraw

    I don’t personally know him but my reading teacher’s wife is grover’s step daughter .
    so technically he’s my new ideal I’m a trombone
    player at westgate K-8 .

  15. gail o'brien

    Happy 78th birthday darling Daddy…from your only surviving child…nothing and no one else matters! Love, Gail x0x0x0x0x0x0x

  16. RobertaCoke

    Dearest Gail,
    It has been awhile since I visited this site but today I was compelled and I see now that you received my last message.
    My father died on the 18 December 2008 in Las Vegas. He was 84, still living on his own, still driving to the casino everyday, still drinking like a soldier and still, well you know, Larry. I flew home the day after Christmas.
    Terri and I arranged everything together. It was the most time we’ve spent together since my move to Australia in 1987. You know she bought a house two doors up from my old house so this time when I went home, I really went home.
    You know my relationship with Larry was alway difficult. I must say that he was a much better grandfather than he was a father, and he was a much better husband to his second wife than he was to his first. May he rest in peace.
    I thought about you everyday I spent in the old neighborhood but was soo busy trying to tidy everything up that I didn’t even get a chance to walk across the street to see Carol.
    Anyway thought I could share that bit of my life with you. You are one of the few people from my past that actually knew both my very bizarre, very disfunctional parents.
    I send this with love and a few tears. Your friend and sister. Robbi

  17. Gaile Welker

    I’ve learned about you through your daughter, Gail, and just wanted to wish you a Happy Father’s Day. I know you know it already but thought I’d tell you that I think you raised a very exceptional daughter. Gail is an inspiration. Peace and love.

  18. Patricia Pope

    Hi Gail,
    I hope al is well with you and your family. I was giving my son a briefing about his family and remembered your dad with much fondness. please call me when you get a chance.
    Your cousin, Patricia

  19. Christine Hogh

    Dear Gail,
    I’m so glad you’re all right. That post from you to me re Grover was the day after my birthday so perhaps he was asking that you send me greetings?
    Are you still in NY?
    I’m on my own now so if ever you cross the pond you know where to come. Bill has all my details.
    Your dad was a truly wonderful man – always in my heart. My youngest granddaughter was born last year on March 17th!
    Love to you all, Chris XXX

  20. Christine Hogh

    Hi Gail.
    I tried to contact you but no one seems to know how to find you. Your message to me on April 6th was quite spooky as my birthday was the day before so perhaps he was sending me a greeting?! Bill knows where to find me – be in touch. I’m on my own now.
    Love to Connor and Nathalie and to you of course,
    Chris X

  21. Curt Yeske

    Hi, I was just sorting through 20 years of jazz columns that I wrote for a New Jersey newspaper and ran across the interviews I did with Grover. He used some of my material to promote his band before he went back to Basie.
    I once went to his old neighborhood in Pittsburgh to see if anyone remembered him as a young man to gather background for a more extensive writing project I had planned.
    I have a few wonderful photos I took of him during a recording session with his big band. And since I’m sorting and throwing out things, I’d like to send the photos and negatives along to his family.
    From one phone call to do an interview when he started his big band we developed a great relatonship. I liked his humor and most of all I’ll never forget his “tell it like it is” attitude. I learned so much from him.
    Gail, I believe we talked one day shortly after Grover died. If you want the photos contact me at

  22. Eunice Thomas-Rouse

    It is with great fondness that I say hello to a distant relative. We were always taught about Mr. Grover growing up in my home town of Whatley. Several years ago during the Lynum / Glover Reunion in St. Louis our Historian paid homage to your dad. You see the Mitchells’/ Pope’s / Creightons/ Ely’s are all tangled in there together. My Great-Grandmother was named Hannah Mitchell she met and married John Lynum… What a history. Yes I am proud of my heritage.

  23. abby

    hey Gail i hope all is well, id love to talk to , i miss you ….call me when you can , i found this site and decides to leave my message here , this is a very nice tribute to your dad..
    …i look foward to hearing from you…oh if you don’t remember me , i lived near your dad and met you the last day you where here, so for sure lets stay in touch.
    love to all in your family

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *