Not everything is always good news here at Flea Market Funk. We lost another music great today, this time one half of the genius production team the Mizell Brothers, Fonce Mizell. The Sky High Brothers aka Mizell Brothers were responsible not just for many songs that are important to us diggers, but to Hip Hop sampling as well. Artists like Johnny Hammond, Bobbi Humphrey, Donald Byrd, Gary Bartz, and A Taste of Honey (which gave them their biggest hit) were blessed by the Mizell sound. Known as some of the hottest and best producers in the 70’s, the Mizell’s unleashed a barrage of Jazz Funk and R & B sides that were rivaled by no other IMHO. While Larry worked with Donald Byrd on the classic Black Byrd, Fonce was a member of Motown’s The Corporation featuring himself, Berry Gordy Jr., Freddie Perren, and Deke Richards. Writing and working closely with The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, and Martha and the Vandellas, they churned out many a hit. Once the two brothers headed to the left coast, Los Angeles, and Sky High Productions was born, their signature sound took flight. The Mizells unleashed classics like “Shifting Gears” by Johnny Hammond and “Dominoes” by Donald Byrd.
In the Hip Hop era, the brothers were sampled by everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to Black Moon to Percee P to Ice Cube and more, and their original records have been sought after by many a record digger/ producer. I can remember a digging trip I took a few years ago with Larry from Funky 16 Corners and DJ Birdman of Washington, DC, where I got a great cut out copy of Johnny Hammond’s Gamblers Life Lp on Salvation. This record is really a treat, and a perfect example of the fine production, playing, and execution of a great record by the brothers Mizell. Rest In Power Fonce Mizell, 68 years young. Your sound will live on forever. Here’s a clip written by Fonce and Larry on the Gambler’s Life Lp called “Call On Me”. Enjoy. Keep diggin’!
More Mizell Brothers Goodness:
Lecture at Red Bull Music Academy with Sky High Productions
4 Hero Marc Mac and Dego present: Mizell Brothers Special Mix