||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2009)|
Johnny Mathis in concert at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California, on May 25, 2006.
|Birth name||John Royce Mathis|
September 30, 1935 |
Gilmer, Texas, United States
|Genres||Pop, soul, jazz, easy listening|
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, actor|
John Royce "Johnny" Mathis (born September 30, 1935) is an American singer of popular music. Starting his career with singles of standard music, he became highly popular as an album artist, with several dozen of his albums achieving gold or platinum status and 73 making the Billboard charts. Johnny Mathis has sold over 350 million records worldwide, as confirmed by Guinness Music charts historian Paul Gambacini.
Although he is frequently described as a romantic singer, his discography includes jazz, traditional pop, Brazilian music, Spanish music, soul music, rhythm and blues, soft rock, Broadway theatre, Tin Pan Alley standards, some blues and country songs, and even a few disco songs for his album Mathis Magic in 1979. Mathis also recorded five albums of Christmas music. In a 1968 interview, Mathis cited Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, and Bing Crosby among his musical influences.
Mathis was born in Gilmer, Texas, in 1935, the fourth of seven children of Clem Mathis and his wife, Mildred Boyd. The family moved to San Francisco, California, settling on 32nd Ave. in the Richmond District, where Johnny grew up. His father had worked in vaudeville, and when he saw his son's talent, he bought an old upright piano for $25 and encouraged him. Mathis began learning songs and routines from his father. His first song was "My Blue Heaven." Mathis started singing and dancing for visitors at home, at school, and at church functions.
When he was 13, voice teacher Connie Cox accepted him as her student in exchange for work around her house. Johnny studied with Cox for six years, learning vocal scales and exercises, voice production, classical, and operatic singing. He is one of the few popular singers who received years of professional voice training that included opera. The first band he sang with was formed by his high school friend Merl Saunders. Mathis eulogized him at his funeral in 2008, thanking him for giving him his first chance as a singer.
Mathis was a star athlete at George Washington High School in San Francisco. He was a high jumper and hurdler, and he played on the basketball team. In 1954, he enrolled at San Francisco State University on an athletic scholarship, intending to become an English teacher and a physical education teacher.
Mathis was spotted at a jam session by Helen Noga, the former head cocktail waitress and co-owner of the Black Hawk Club in San Francisco and The DownBeat Club, along with her husband John and Guido Caccienti. She became his musical manager. The clubs attracted the world's finest jazz musicians, including Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, and Billie Holiday. John Noga and Guido Caccienti had opened the Black Hawk in the fall of 1949. In September 1955, after Noga had found Mathis a job singing weekends at Ann Dee's 440 Club, she contacted the jazz producer George Avakian, who she had found out was on vacation near San Francisco. Avakian came to listen to Mathis sing, and after doing so, he sent a telegram to Columbia Records stating: Have found phenomenal 19-year-old boy who could go all the way. Send blank contracts.
At San Francisco State, Mathis had become noteworthy as a high jumper, and in 1956 he was asked to try out for the U.S. Olympic Team that would travel to Melbourne, Australia, that November. Mathis had to decide whether to go to the Olympic trials or to keep his appointment in New York City to make his first recordings. On his father's advice, Mathis opted to embark on a professional singing career. His LP record album was published in late 1956 instead of waiting until the first quarter of 1957.
Mathis's first record album, Johnny Mathis: A New Sound In Popular Song, was a slow-selling jazz album, but Mathis stayed in New York City to sing in nightclubs. His second album was produced by Columbia Records vice-president and record producer Mitch Miller, who helped to define the Mathis sound. Miller preferred that Mathis sing soft, romantic ballads, pairing him up with conductor and music arranger Ray Conniff, and later, Ray Ellis, Glenn Osser, and Robert Mersey. In late 1956, Mathis recorded two of his most popular songs: "Wonderful! Wonderful!" and "It's Not For Me To Say".
Also that year, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer signed him up to sing the latter song in the movie Lizzie (1957). Shortly afterwards, Mathis made his second film appearance for 20th Century Fox, singing the song "A Certain Smile" in the film of that title. He had small acting roles in both movies as a bar singer. This early visibility in two successful movies gave him mass exposure. His appearance on the popular TV program The Ed Sullivan Show in 1957 also helped increase his popularity. Critics called him "the velvet voice". Mathis also appeared during this period on ABC's The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, as did fellow African-American entertainers Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey.
During the summer of 1958, Mathis left San Francisco with the Nogas, who sold their interest in the Black Hawk club that year, and moved to Beverly Hills, California, where the Nogas bought a house. Mathis lived with the family.
In 1958, Johnny’s Greatest Hits was released. The album spent an unprecedented 491 consecutive weeks through 1967 (nine and a half years) on the Billboard top 100 album charts, earning him a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Mathis had two of his biggest hits in 1962 and 1963, with "Gina" (#6) and "What Will Mary Say" (#9).
In October 1964, Mathis sued Noga to void their management arrangement, which Noga fought with a counterclaim in December 1964. Mathis purchased a mansion in Hollywood Hills, which was originally built by billionaire Howard Hughes in 1946, where he still maintains a residence.
After splitting from Noga, Mathis established Jon Mat Records, Inc., incorporated in California May 11, 1967, to produce his recordings (previously, he founded Global Records, Inc. to produce his Mercury albums), and Rojon Productions, Inc., incorporated in California September 30, 1964, to handle all of his concert, theater, showroom, and television appearances, and all promotional and charitable activities. His new manager and business partner was Ray Haughn, who helped guide his career until his death in September 1984. Since that time, Mathis has taken sole responsibility for his career.
While Mathis continued to make music, the ascent of the Beatles and early 1970s album kept his adult contemporary recordings out of the pop singles charts, until he experienced a career renaissance in the late 1970s.
In 1978, Mathis recorded "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" with singer Deniece Williams. The lyrics and music were arranged by Nat Kipner and John McIntyre Vallins. Released as a single in 1978, it reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, number nine on the Canadian Singles Chart and number three on the UK Singles Chart. It also topped the US R&B and adult contemporary charts. "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" was certified gold and silver in the US and in the UK by the RIAA and the British Phonographic Industry respectively. It was his first number one hit since his 1957 chart-topping "Chances Are."
The duo released a follow-up duet, "You're All I Need to Get By," peaking at number 47 on the Hot 100. The success of the duets with Williams prompted Mathis to record duets with a variety of partners, including Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight, Jane Olivor, Stephanie Lawrence, and Nana Mouskouri. A compilation album also called Too Much, Too Little, Too Late, released by Sony Music in 1995, featured the title track among other songs by the duo.
During 1980-81, Mathis recorded an album with Chic's Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, I Love My Lady, which remains unreleased in its entirety, though three tracks appeared on a Chic box set in 2010 and a fourth, the title track, on Mathis' Ultimate Collection in 2011 and the Chic Organization's Up All Night in 2013.
Mathis returned to the British Top 20 album chart in 2007 with the Sony BMG release The Very Best of Johnny Mathis and again in 2008 with the Columbia CD "A Night to Remember".
Mathis continues to perform live, but from 2000 forward, he limited his concert performances to about fifty to sixty per year.
He has the distinction of having the longest tenure of any recording artist on the Columbia Records label. With the exception of a four-year break to record for Mercury Records in the mid-1960s, he has been with Columbia Records throughout his career, from 1956 to 1963 and from 1968 to the present.
He has had five of his albums on the Billboard charts simultaneously, an achievement equaled by only two other singers: Frank Sinatra and Barry Manilow. He has released 200 singles and had 71 songs charted around the world. Recordings historian Paul Gambaccini confims Mathis's recordings have sold well over 350 million copies worldwide, and he is the third most successful recording artist in the US. This makes Johnny Mathis the third biggest selling recording artist of the 20th century, after only Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
Pieces of music from numerous Mathis albums continue to be used in motion pictures and television. For example, "Chances Are" was played during an extraterrestrial visit in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), "Wonderful! Wonderful!" in The X-Files episode "Home". Various Mathis songs have been played more recently in the TV series Mad Men. Mathis's "Wonderful! Wonderful!" was used in the conclusion to the long running TV series Desperate Housewives as "Karen McClusky" passed away.
He has taped twelve of his own television specials and made over 300 television guest appearances, with 33 of them being on The Tonight Show. Longtime Tonight Show host Johnny Carson said, "Johnny Mathis is the best ballad singer in the world." He appeared on the show with Carson's successor, Jay Leno, on March 29, 2007, to sing his song "The Shadow of Your Smile" with the saxophonist Dave Koz. Through the years, his songs (or parts of them) have been heard in 100 plus television shows and films around the globe. His appearance on the Live by Request broadcast in May 1998 on the A&E Network had the largest television viewing audience of the series. Also in 1989, Johnny sang the theme for the ABC daytime soap opera Loving.
Despite missing the Olympic high jump trials, he has never abandoned his enthusiasm for sports and today is an avid golfer who has achieved nine holes-in-one, and has hosted several Johnny Mathis Golf Tournaments in the United Kingdom and the US. Since 1985 he has been hosting a charity golf tournament in Belfast sponsored by Shell corporation,[clarification needed] and the annual Johnny Mathis Invitational Track & Field Meet has continued at San Francisco State University since it started in 1982.
In 1982 he published a cookbook, Cooking for You Alone.
Mathis has undergone rehabilitation for both alcohol and prescription drug addictions.
In a 1982 Us Magazine article, Mathis was quoted as having said, "Homosexuality is a way of life that I've grown accustomed to." Us Magazine later retracted the statement. After more than 20 years of silence on the subject, Mathis revealed in an interview, in 2006, that his silence was because of death threats he received as a result of that 1982 article. On April 13, 2006, Mathis granted a podcast interview with The Strip in which he talked about the subject once again, and how some of his reluctance to speak on the subject was partially generational.
Honors and awards
In 2003, the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences awarded Mathis the Lifetime Achievement Award. This Special Merit Award is presented by vote of the Recording Academy's National Trustees to performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artist significance to the field of recording.
Grammy Hall of Fame
Johnny Mathis was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance."
|Grammy Hall of Fame Awards|
|Year Recorded||Title||Genre||Label||Year Inducted|
|1957||"It's Not for Me to Say"||Traditional Pop (Single)||Columbia||2008|
|1959||"Misty"||Traditional Pop (Single)||Columbia||2002|
|1957||"Chances Are"||Traditional Pop (Single)||Columbia||1998|
In 1978, his hit duet "The Last Time I Felt Like This" from the film Same Time, Next Year was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Mathis and Olivor sang the song at the Academy Awards ceremony, in his second performance at the Oscars. In 2007, Mathis was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. On March 1, 2013, Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters honored Mathis with the Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award, presented at a luncheon at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City, California.
|"It's Not For Me To Say"||5||—||—||—|
|"The Twelfth of Never"||9||—||—||—|
|"No Love (But Your Love)"||21||—||—||—|
|"Wild Is the Wind"||22||—||—||—|
|1958||"Come To Me"||22||—||—||—|
|"All the Time"||21||—||—||—|
|"A Certain Smile"||14||—||—||4|
|"You Are Beautiful"||60||—||—||38|
|"You Are Everything To Me"||109||—||—||—|
|"The Story of Our Love"||93||—||—||—|
|"The Best of Everything"||62||—||—||30|
|"My Love For You"||47||—||—||9|
|"How To Handle a Woman"||64||—||—||—|
|1961||"You Set My Heart To Music"||107||—||—||—|
|"Wasn't the Summer Short?"||89||—||—||—|
|1963||"What Will Mary Say"||9||3||21||49|
|"Every Step of the Way"||30||10||—||—|
|"Sooner or Later"||84||—||—||—|
|"Your Teenage Dreams"||68||19||—||—|
|"I'll Search My Heart"||90||—||—||—|
|1964||"Bye Bye Barbara"||53||17||—||—|
|"The Fall of Love"||120||—||—||—|
|"Taste of Tears"||87||—||—||—|
|"Listen Lonely Girl"||62||11||—||—|
|1965||"Take the Time"||104||32||—||—|
|"On a Clear Day You Can See Forever"||98||6||—||—|
|1966||"So Nice (Samba de Verao)"||—||17||—||—|
|1967||"Two Tickets and a Candy Heart"||—||38||—||—|
|"Don't Talk To Me"||—||21||—||—|
|"You Make Me Think About You"||—||35||—||—|
|1969||"The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)"||—||39||—||—|
|"I'll Never Fall In Love Again"||—||35||—||—|
|"Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet (A Time For Us)"||96||8||—||—|
|1970||"Odds and Ends"||—||30||—||—|
|"Wherefore and Why"||—||17||—||—|
|"Pieces of Dreams"||—||9||—||—|
|1971||"Ten Times Forever More"||—||32||—||—|
|1972||"Make It Easy On Yourself"||103||16||—||—|
|"Soul and Inspiration/For Once In My Life"||—||37||—||—|
|1973||"Take Good Care of Her"||—||40||—||—|
|"Show and Tell"||—||36||—||—|
|"I'm Coming Home"||75||1||92||—|
|"Life Is a Song Worth Singing"||54||8||65||—|
|1975||"Sail On White Moon"||—||39||—||—|
|"I'm Stone In Love With You"||—||16||—||10|
|1976||"One Day In Your Life"||—||36||—||—|
|"Yellow Roses On Her Gown"||—||44||—||—|
|"Do Me Wrong, But Do Me"||—||25||—||—|
|"When a Child Is Born"||—||—||—||1|
|1977||"Loving You-Losing You"||—||29||—||—|
|1978||"Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" **||1||1||1||3|
|"You're All I Need To Get By" **||47||16||10||45|
|1979||"The Last Time I Felt Like This" ***||—||15||—||—|
|"Begin the Beguine"||—||37||—||—|
|"Gone, Gone, Gone"||—||—||—||15|
|1980||"Different Kinda Different" #||—||-||81||—|
|1982||"Friends In Love" ##||38||5||22||—|
|1984||"Love Won't Let Me Wait" **||106||14||32||—|
|1985||"Right From the Heart"||—||38||—||—|
|1988||"I'm On the Outside Looking In"||—||27||—||—|
|1992||"Better Together" ###||—||—||68||—|
|2003||"Frosty the Snowman"||—||29||—||—|
- Johnny Mathis Columbia CL-887 1956
- Wonderful, Wonderful Columbia CL-1028 (Gold) 1957
- Warm Columbia CL-1078/CS-8039 (Gold) 1957
- Good Night, Dear Lord Columbia 1958
- Johnny's Greatest Hits Columbia CL-1133 (Multi-Platinum) 1958
- Swing Softly Columbia CL-1165/CS-8023 (Gold), #10 UK Pop Albums 1958
- Merry Christmas Columbia CL-1195/CS-8021 (Multi-Platinum) 1958
- Open Fire, Two Guitars Columbia CL-1270/CS-8056 (Gold) 1959
- More Johnny's Greatest Hits Columbia CL-1344/CS-8150 (Gold) 1959
- Heavenly Columbia CL-1354/CS-8152 (Multi-Platinum) 1959
- Faithfully Columbia CS-8219 (Gold) 1959
- The Rhythms and Ballads of Broadway Columbia #6 UK Pop Albums 1960
- Johnny's Mood Columbia 1960
- I'll Buy You A Star #18 UK Pop Albums Columbia 1961
- Portrait of Johnny Columbia 1961
- Live It Up! Columbia 1962
- Rapture Columbia 1962
- Johnny's Newest Hits Columbia 1963
- Johnny Columbia 1963
- Romantically Columbia CS 8898, CL 2098 1963
- Sounds of Christmas Mercury 1963
- I'll Search My Heart and Other Great Hits Columbia CS-8943
- The Great Years Columbia 1964
- Tender Is the Night Mercury 1964
- The Wonderful World of Make Believe Mercury 1964
- This Is Love Mercury MG 20942/SR 60942 1964
- Olé Mercury 1965
- Love Is Everything Mercury 1965
- The Sweetheart Tree Mercury SR 61041/MG 21041 1965
- The Shadow of Your Smile Mercury 1966
- So Nice Mercury 1966
- Johnny Mathis Sings Mercury SR-61107 1967
- Up, Up and Away Columbia 1967
- Love Is Blue Columbia CS-9637 1968
- Those Were the Days Columbia CS 9705 1968
- People Columbia 1969
- The Impossible Dream Columbia 1969
- Love Theme From "Romeo And Juliet" (A Time For Us) Columbia 1969
- Give Me Your Love for Christmas Columbia (Platinum) 1969
- Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head #23 UK Pop Albums 1970
- Close to You Columbia 1970
- Sings the Music of Bacharach & Kaempfert 1970
- Love Story #27 UK Pop Albums 1971
- You've Got a Friend Columbia 1971
- Johnny Mathis in Person: Recorded Live at Las Vegas Columbia 1972
- The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face) #40 UK Pop Albums 1972
- Johnny Mathis' All-Time Greatest Hits (Platinum) 1972
- Song Sung Blue 1972
- Me and Mrs. Jones 1973
- Killing Me Softly with Her Song 1973
- I'm Coming Home Columbia #18 UK Pop Albums 1973
- The Heart of a Woman #39 UK Pop Albums 1974
- When Will I See You Again #13 UK Pop Albums 1975
- Feelings (Platinum) 1975
- I Only Have Eyes for You #14 UK Pop Albums (UK Gold) 1976
- Mathis Is... 1977
- Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me 1977
- The Mathis Collection" #1 UK Pop Albums (UK Platinum) 1977
- You Light Up My Life #3 UK Pop Albums (Platinum) 1978
- That's What Friends Are For #16 UK Pop Albums (Gold) 1978
- The Best Days of My Life#38 UK Pop Albums 1979
- Mathis Magic #59 UK Pop Albums 1979
- Tears and Laughter #1 UK Pop Albums (UK Gold) 1980
- Different Kinda Different/All for You #20 UK Pop Albums 1980
- The Best of Johnny Mathis 1975–1980 (Gold) 1980
- I Love My Lady 1981 (unreleased)
- The First 25 Years – The Silver Anniversary Album 1981
- Celebration – The Anniversary Album #9 UK Pop Albums (UK Gold) 1981
- Friends In Love #34 UK Pop Albums 1982
- Unforgettable #5 UK Pop Albums (UK Gold) 1983
- A Special Part of Me #45 UK Pop Albums 1984
- Johnny Mathis Live 1985
- Right from the Heart 1985
- Hollywood Musicals #46 UK Pop Albums 1986
- Christmas Eve with Johnny Mathis 1986
- 16 Most Requested Songs 1987
- Once in a While 1988
- In the Still of the Night 1989
- In a Sentimental Mood: Mathis Sings Ellington 1990
- Better Together: The Duet Album 1991
- How Do You Keep the Music Playing 1993
- The Hits of Johnny Mathis 1995 "(UK GOLD)
- All About Love 1996
- Because You Loved Me: Songs of Diane Warren 1998
- Mathis on Broadway 2000
- The Christmas Album (Gold) 2002
- Isn't It Romantic: The Standards Album 2005
- The Very Best of Johnny Mathis #6 UK Pop Albums (UK Gold) 2006
- A Night to Remember #29 UK Pop Albums 2008
- Let It Be Me: Mathis in Nashville 2010
- The Ultimate Collection #17 UK Albums 2011
- Sending You a Little Christmas 2013
Mathis' million-selling discs include the singles "Wonderful Wonderful", "It's Not For Me To Say", "Chances Are" (over two million), "Misty" (over two million), "When A Child Is Born" ( over 6 million worldwide ) and "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" (over five million). His million-selling albums include Johnny's Greatest Hits (approaching five million), Merry Christmas (approximately six million), Heavenly (over two million), Give Me Your Love For Christmas, All Time Greatest Hits (over two million) and You Light Up My Life (also over two million).
- Mathis, Johnny; Brash, Peter; Birch, Marge (1982). Cooking for You Alone. Pasadena, CA: Tech. Educ. Co. ISBN 0-939402-00-9.
- Johnny Mathis interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969).
- verified on official website: http://www.johnnymathis.com/
- "For Blacks And Jews, A Musical Gray Area" Eric Herschthal, Jewish Week, October 12, 2010
- "Johnny Mathis". Las Vegas Online Entertainment Guide. 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Richard Ouzounian (2009-08-22). "Johnny Mathis: A born crooner". Toronto Star.
- "Johnny Mathis Official Website". Retrieved May 12, 2011.
- "NBC Tonight Show with Jay Leno". NBC.com. 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-31.
- "Shaking the Closet: Analyzing Johnny Mathis's Sexual Elusiveness, 1956-82", Vincent Stephens, Popular Music and Society, Vol. 33 #5, December 2010, pp. 597-623
- Gold, Plunkett & Sneed (1982-06-11). "Inc.". Chicago Tribune. p. A20.
- "Report on interview with the Daily Express". New York Daily News. 10 March 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- "Johnny Mathis In Death Threats". FemaleFirst.co.uk. 26 February 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Johnny Mathis (.MP3). The Strip. 13 April 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Lifetime Achievement Award
- Grammy Hall of Fame Database
- 2008 Grammy Hall of Fame List
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 355. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Johnny Mathis at the Internet Broadway Database
- Johnny Mathis at the Internet Movie Database
- Official website
- Johnny Mathis at Sony website
- Mathis, Johnny-AMG discography — Allmusic
- Johnny Mathis at The Mathis Chronicles
- Johnny Mathis NPR Audio: with Ed Gordon
- Dave Koz f/ Johnny Mathis "The Shadow of Your Smile" NBC Audio: The Tonight Show
- Thom Bell talks about his classic Johnny Mathis produced album I'm Coming Home Soul Jones Presents