Oliver E. Mitchell was born April 8, 1927. His father, Harold (Pappy) Mitchell played first trumpet in the Jazz Singer, (the first sound movie) all the old Republic westerns, the original King Kong, Gone with the Wind, and all of the MGM musicals until he retired in 1948. Harold started his son Ollie on the trumpet at age five to prove some of his trumpistic theories. Ollie survived, and because of the strict training his dad put him through, he had all the skills needed to be one of the top recording trumpet players in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s.
He turned professional while still in high school, playing in the Teenagers Band on the Hoagy Carmichael radio show and in other bands around Southern California. He joined the Navy at 18, and found his way into the band aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S Lexington. After his discharge he staked out his ground as first trumpet player with a number of name bands including Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Horace Heidt, Charlie Barnet, Alvino Rey, Perez Prado, Harry James, Les Brown, Shorty Rogers, David Rose, Gerald Wilson, Sonny Burke, Gerry Gray and the Glenn Miller Band with Tex Beneke. In 1960 Ollie left the Harry James Band to play lead trumpet with David Rose for the Fred Astaire Special at NBC and a full-time studio schedule became a reality.
Ollie did a lot a private teaching, but, in 1961, he and trombonist Bob Edmondson established Swing Inc., a school devoted to developing young big band musicians. The school came to an end in 1964 when the Tijuana Brass became famous. Ollie and Bob were part of the original group.