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mizell brothers

The Mizell Brothers

The Mizell Brothers comprised of:

Alphonso ‘Fonce’ Mizell (b. Alphonso Mizell, 15th January 1943, Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.A. d. 5th July 2011, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. – Producer, percussion & keyboards)


Larry C. Mizell (b. Laurence C. Mizell, 17th February 1944, Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.A. – Songwriter, percussion & keyboards)

As teenagers both Fonce and Larry Mizell were given trumpets and joined their school band.

In time the Mizells and classmate Freddie Perren formed a doo-wop group dubbed the Nikons recording a handful of demo sides before graduating high school.

The Vanlords the vanlords

The brothers and Perren later attended Howard University (a Black college located in Washington D.C.), in late 1961 forming the jazz harmony quartet the Vanlords with friend John Butler.

The group won a number of campus talent contests, and for a time featured a young Donny Hathaway on piano.

Fonce Mizell

fonce mizell

At Howard, Fonce also studied under trumpet great, Donald Byrd, with whom the Mizells would later collaborate alongside.

Prior to graduation, the duo founded their first record label, Hog, making their debut as producers with the imprint's first and only release, the Moments' ‘Baby, I Want You’.

The single wasn’t a great success, however, it has become highly collectable in today’s musical marketplace.

Upon graduating Howard, Larry Mizell accepted an engineering position with Grumman Aerospace in Long Island, while Fonce and Perren relocated to Los Angeles.

They both landed a short lived partnership with the independent label LARCO (Los Angeles Recording Company).

A mutual friend, called Jill Griffith, soon put Fonce in contact with Motown producer Deke Richards, and in 1969 he and Perren were signed to the label as staff songwriters.

Together with Richards and Motown chief Berry Gordy Jr., they formed the writing and production team entitled the Corporation at Gordy’s Jobete imprint (Jobette being an acronym of the names of Gordy’s three children, Hazel Joy, Berry and Terry).

The pair then penned a song originally destined for Gladys Knight and the Pips, entitled ‘I Wanna Be Free’ (a song never recorded by Gladys).

The Jacksons the jackson 5

Gordy suggested they rework the song for Motown's latest signing, a group from Gary, Indiana called the Jackson 5.

The duo retitled the song ‘I Want You Back’.

The Corporation also penned ‘ABC’ and ‘The Love You Save’ as well as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas' 1971's release ‘Bless You’.

Larry then resigned from Grumman and joined his brother in L.A., working as a session player on a handful of Corporation projects.

On leaving the Motown stable Donald Byrd traveled to the West Coast to work on his latest Blue Note LP, 1972's ‘Ethiopian Knights’.

The pair teamed up with Donald Byrd and acquired an ARP Soloist synthesizer and began composing demo material, eventually founding their own production company, Sky High.

Fonce Mizell fonce

Donald Byrd's 1973 LP ‘Black Byrd’ was the first official Sky High recording.

The Mizells' collaboration with Byrd, the album ‘Street Lady’, followed in late 1973, and contained the popular ‘Lansana’s Priestess’.

Flautist Bobbi Humphrey's album ‘Blacks and Blues’ was recorded just weeks later and contained the highly popular ‘Harlem River Drive’.

Johnny Hammond's 1974 Salvation label set entitled ‘Gambler's Life’, then saw the light of day followed by the fusion classic set ‘Gears’.

Donald & Mizells

on stage with donald byrd (right) - fonce in light blue shirt, larry in the red shirt

Donald Byrd's 1975 album ‘Places and Spaces’, became the duo’s landmark album.

Containing ‘Change (Makes You Wanna Hustle)' and ‘Wind Parade’, the album became a fusion landmark of it’s time.

The song ‘Dominoes’ still fills many a U.K. dancefloor.

The Mizell Brothers larry & fonce mizell

The following year the duo collaborated with the artist Roger Glenn on his album ‘Reachin’ and released a further set on Donald Byrd entitled ‘Cariactures’.

Donald Byrd then relocated to the Elektra label and Bobbi Humphrey moved to CBS, following the release of her final collaboration album ‘Satin Doll’.

In 1977, the duo joined forces with Gary Bartz for the album release ‘Music Is My Sanctuary’.

The Mizells also crossed back into commercial R & B with the 1978 release of A Taste of Honey's self-titled debut LP, which contained the disco classic ‘Boogie Oogie Oogie’.

mizell brother productions

They also recorded with the group L.T.D. releasing and writing the best seller ‘Love Ballad’.

In a return to work with the Jackson’s, the duo penned the Michael Jackson song ‘Farewell My Summer Love’ and wrote a song for Mary Wells entitled ‘Gigolo for the CBS imprint.

Although the brothers signed their own recording deal with Warner Bros., they preferred the anonymity of writing and producing, and with the dawn of 1980’s the Mizells semi retired from their recording and writing chores.

Later in the 1980’s the Mizell’s productions began to be sampled by rap acts such as Fresh Prince & Jazzy Jeff (‘A Touch Of Jazz’).

In 2005, Blue Note released the compilation Mizell Brothers at Blue Note Records, ‘1973 to 1977 and Beyond’.

Mizell Brothers

larry and fonce mizell in 2006


Fonce Mizell sadly passed away from heart failure in July 2011.

Real Player

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