Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pete Mitchell - Texas Troubadour Passes

Pete Mitchell passed away last Saturday (7/23) at the age of 74 due to cancer. Originally born in Canada as Peter Michaud, he came to the US, after playing the scene in Toronto where the Hawks (who later became The Band) played the same clubs in the early 60s.

Immigrating to the States, he Americanized his name to Mitchell, played with Wynn Stewart, Cal Smith, Ray Price and Waylon Jennings, who later adopted the leather-casing for his electrical guitar.
In the mid 70's while living in the Fort Worth area, he got picked up by Ernest Tubb and so became a Texas Troubadour. Mitchell or the "little man from Canada" as E.T. called him played with Tubb until his death in 1984. Pete wasn't just a touring musician, but also appeared on E.T.'s recordings - sometimes with his given name, Michaud. You will also find him on other recordings, e.g. John Anderson's "EYE OF THE HURRICANCE."

 After Tubb's passing Pete stayed in Nashville as a session player and toured with several artists. Some times he would sit in with his former Texas Troubadour, steel guitarist Lynn Owsley. In the video below the two share the stage with one of the fathers of the modern Steel Guitar, Jimmy Day.

Jimmy Day & Lynn Owsley - Steel Guitar; Pete Mitchell - Guitar

When Jimmy Day passed away in 1999, Pete came to Austin to pay his respect and was re-introduced to Jimmy's sister-in-law, Paula. It was love at first sight, and a little time later, Pete moved from Nashville to Buda (outskirts of Austin) got married and settled down in Texas. As a sideman he would play with local people like the Troubadillos, James Hand, James White and Alvin Crow's Hardcore Country band as wel as with Lost John Casner. He played his last gig during Christmas week (2015) with Glen Collins at Watterson Hall in Red Rock. During the music fair SXSW he would was often a hired gun for musicians passing through Austin, needing a solid picker to make them shine.

As producer and steel guitarist Tommy Detamore put it: "Pete was such a treasure. I feel so lucky I got to make record with him. Only problem was I kept halting the progress to ask him to show me how he did something! His approach to guitar was so cool and innovative. Some of those bends he string bends....index finger fluid."

And Pete did it with a lot of charm and always a smile on his face.

Sources: YouTube,, converstations with Pete


  1. Pete was a fascinating guitarist. You never knew what he was going to play next and he always delivered something unique that always served the song. He helped me out quite a bit when I lived in Nashville Tn. and was also very inspirational, not only as a musician but as a human being. My deepest sympathy goes out to all of his family and friends. Rest in peace my friend.
    Bob Watson

  2. Thanks Bob for your lovely comment. Yes Pete was a great human being, in all these years I've known him, I never saw him angry, he always had a smile on his face. And conversations always continued, where you left of the time before. Great guy, great human being!

  3. pete played guitar with my husbands band. every thursday, i got to hear him play. as long as i've known pete & paula, i never even once saw them without each other. such a beautiful existence. she & i kidded about being their roadies
    he could make his guitar SPEAK. if you closed your eyes and listened, you wouldn't know those sounds were coming from his guitar!!
    on an incredibly painful and sad note - pete is buried in a family cemetery wherein lies the father of pedal steel, the legend jimmy day - in an unmarked grave - near his friend pete mitchell. jimmy's wife and pete's wife were sisters.
    jimmy day is buried in an unmarked grave in buda, texas.
    goodnight for now pete. jimmy & marilyn.

  4. Steph - thanks for sharing your memories. Yes Pete & Paula were inseparable, a true inspiration to all.
    And yes I know about Jimmy's unmarked grave - I saw Jimmy play with Don Walser on Monday nights at the now gone Henry's on Austin's Burnet Road. Actually that place is gone for almost (on next Halloween) 25 years.

  5. There is a picture of Pete playing a Gibson Flying V guitar. It's thought he may have bought it at Arthurs Music in Indianapolis. Joe Bonamassa has a V with a serial number matching the one from pictures in the store in 1958, and there is a picture of Pete in Canada playing THAT guitar. Does anyone know or remember Pete with a Flying V guitar? Pictures? There is one photo of him with it, it's autographed. Thank You!!
    Johnny Cola
    Huntington, NY