Kim Mitchell. Guitarist, singer, songwriter, broadcaster, b Sarnia, Ont, 10 Jul 1952. Kim Mitchell grew up in Sarnia and moved to Toronto at age 17, where he played guitar in bar bands. He was the manic frontman 1972-81 for the quirky hard-rock band Max Webster, which, in its heyday, also included the Sarnia musicians Terry Watkinson (keyboards), Dave Myles (bass), and Gary McCracken (drums). A fifth member, lyricist Pye Dubois, did not perform with the band. Based in Toronto, Max Webster was equally one of the most popular and most original rock bands in Canada during the late 1970s, known for its LPs, all of which sold at least 50,000 copies, and for its hyperactive concerts. Max Webster performed widely in Canada and by 1980 had toured with Rush
in the USA, Great Britain, and Europe. In collaboration with Dubois, Mitchell wrote such popular Max Webster songs as "Hangover," "High Class in Borrowed Shoes," and "Paradise Skies." The band is also remembered for "A Million Vacations," "Let Go the Line," etc.
Mitchell's Solo Career
Mitchell turned to a solo career in 1982, after working as session guitarist and producer. He formed a band that included, most notably, the singer and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, drums) Peter Fredette until 1990. Pye Dubois remained as Mitchell's lyricist, and their collaborations continued to capture the concerns and diversions of the teenaged Canadian male. The singles "Go for Soda" and "All We Are" (1984), "Patio Lanterns" and "Alana Loves Me" (1986), and "Easy to Tame" (1987) were popular. The autobiographical "Rock 'n' Roll Duty" was a major Canadian hit in 1989, followed that year by "Rocklandwonderland" and in 1990 by the lesser hits "Expedition Sailor" and "I Am a Wild Party." The LP Shakin' Like a Human Being
received the 1986 Juno Award
as album of the year and sold more than 300,000 copies. Mitchell himself received a Juno in 1983 as most promising male vocalist and in 1990 as male vocalist of the year. Juno nominations followed in 1991 and 1993. Sales of the albums akimbo alogo
Behind Mitchell's somewhat unconventional image - a face typically framed by two long hanks of hair and an Ontario Provincial Police cap - there is a rock guitarist of imagination (he was a pupil of Tony Bradan) and a pop songwriter of considerable craft. About his preference to collaborate with a lyricist, Mitchell stated, "I hate writing lyrics .... I speak through my six strings" (Peterborough This Week, 17 Aug 1995).
His performing career has been largely confined to Canada, where he has been especially popular on the summer concert circuit. He appeared regularly during the 1980s at the Kingswood Music Theatre, in Maple, Ont, where his concerts to 1988 had a combined attendance of more than 100,000.
Mitchell's career after the 1980s heyday experienced dry spells. He released the albums Aural Fixations
(1992, with lyricist Andy Curran); Itch
(1994, with Dubois as lyricist); and after a five-year gap, Kimosabe
. Only Fixations
achieved gold status; a 1995 greatest hits compilation went platinum. Mitchell continued to perform during the summers, often in clubs and small venues and occasional larger concerts such as in Buffalo, NY, in July 2000, where he played outdoors for 20,000 attendees. During this period Max Webster also performed occasional reunion gigs. Mitchell announced his retirement from recording in 2001. For a time he wrote commercial jingles. In Aug 2004, he began broadcasting for Toronto rock radio station Q107 (CILQ-FM). In 2007 he came out of retirement to record Ain't Life Amazing
, and undertook a cross-country tour.
Kim Mitchell. 1982. Anthem ANM-1-5001
akimbo alogo. (1984). Alert BD-101
Shakin' Like a Human Being. (1986). Alert BD4-1004
Rockland. (1989). Alert Z1-81010
I Am a Wild Party - Live. (1990). Alert Z2-81015 (CD and cass)
Mitchell recorded six LPs for Anthem with Max Webster 1975-80: Max Webster (ANR-1-1006), High Class in Borrowed Shoes (ANR-1-1007), Mutiny Up My Sleeve (ANR-1-1012) A Million Vacations (ANR-1-1018), Live Magnetic Air (ANR-1-1019) and Universal Juveniles (ANR-1-1027). The retrospective Diamonds Diamonds (ANR-1-1033) was released in 1981.
Aural Fixations. 1992. Alert Z2-81019
Itch. 1994. Alert Z4 81024
Kimosabe. 1999. Chinook 99057 0001-2
Ain't Life Amazing. 2007. Lobster/Koch
Revised: Betty Nygaard King
Niester, Alan. "Canada's Max Webster ready but is the world?" Toronto Globe and Mail, 22 Jun 1979
Testa, Bart. "Eccentric innovators of rock," Toronto Life, May 1980
Collie, Ashley. "Kim Mitchell," Canadian Musician, vol 7, May 1985
MacInnis, Craig. "Shakin' like a human being over stardom," Toronto Star, 25 Jul 1986
Sharp, Keith. "Duty Bound," Music Express, 139, Aug 1989
Rogers, Ron. "Kim Mitchell: Future mayor of Collingwood?" RPM, 13 Dec 1999
"Writing for guitar," Canadian Musician, Jan-Feb 2000
Harde, Erin. "Kim Mitchell mixes old and new," CanWest News, 11 Aug 2007
Links to Other Sites
The website for the JUNO Awards and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Scroll down the page to check out the latest award winners and music clips. Sample the latest JUNO Awards CD. From the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada
The website for SOCAN, the Canadian copyright collective for composers, authors and publishers. Check out "SOCAN Interactive" for videos and audio clips of Canadian performers. Also see the latest news about SOCAN award winners and events, online articles about the Canadian music scene, and much more.
The website for singer-guitarist Kim Mitchell. Features a bio, discography, tour dates, streaming video, and much more.