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Mann was born in Huntingdon, Tennessee and raised in rural Tennessee; his parents owned a lumber business. He sang in church and did country songs for local talent shows, playing guitar and piano. In 1957, he released his first single on Jaxon Records, "Gonna Rock and Roll Tonight" b/w "Rockin' Love". Several further singles on Jaxon followed, after which Carl Perkins' drummer, W.S. Holland, became Mann's manager, signing him to Sun Records. Sun owner Sam Phillips signed Mann to a three-year contract, and soon after Sun released Mann's rockabilly version of Nat King Cole's "Mona Lisa". Mann and Conway Twitty both released single versions of the tune at the same time, and both charted; it was sixteen-year-old Mann's first hit, peaking at No. 24 on the US R&B Singles chart and No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959.
Mann's follow-up singles were less successful; he covered several pop standards, but the only charting hit was 1959's "Pretend", which peaked at No. 57 Pop. An LP, Like Mann, was released in 1960 but did not sell well, and Mann began to drift from the business. He did a stint in the Army in 1964, and then released a single, "Down to My Last I Love You", on Monument Records; after it failed, he returned to family life and battled problems with alcoholism.
Mann returned as a country artist in 1974, releasing singles on ABC and Dot. His 1976 single "Twilight Time" scraped the US Country Singles chart, peaking at No. 100. In 1977, he landed a deal with Dutch record label Rockhouse Records, who released a live/studio split Gonna Rock'n'Roll Tonight in 1978 and In Rockabilly Country in 1981. He toured occasionally in Europe in the 1980s, but eventually returned once again to running the family logging outfit.
Mann came out of music retirement in 2005, performing on the local Huntingdon Hayride radio show in his hometown. He continued to perform overseas and in the states, and record. A CD called Rockabilly Highway, featuring Mann, and Sun Records label mates W. S. Holland and Rayburn Anthony, was released in 2008. He was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tennessee, in 2006. In May 2011, a book on his life and music career called The Last Son of Sun was released. Mann continued to perform, including at Sun Record showcases in Las Vegas, "Viva Las Vegas" at Orleans Hotel in Vegas. Nashville's "Ink and Iron", and other venues. When dates allowed, his son, Richard Mann, joined him on stage to carry on the family tradition.
- Like Mann (1960)
- Gonna Rock 'N' Roll Tonight (1978)
- In Rockabilly Country (1981)
- Rockin' Love - Original Sun recordings (1987)
- Strait & Narrow Road (2006)
- Legendary Country Influences (2007)
- Carl Mann (2012)
- "Gonna Rock & Roll Tonight"/"Rockin' Love" (1957)
- "Mona Lisa"/"Foolish One" (1959)
- "Pretend"/"Rockin' Love" (1959)
- "Some Enchanted Evening"/"I Can't Forget" (1959)
- "Baby I Don't Care"/"Vanished" (1960)
- "South of the Border/"I'm Comin' Home" (1960)
- "The Wayward Wind"/"Born To Be Bad" (1960)
- "If I Could Change You"/"I Ain't Got No Home" (1961)
- "When I Grow Too Old To Dream"/"Mountain Dew" (1962)
- "The Serenade Of The Bells"/"Down To My Last I Forgive You" (1966)
- "Burnin' Holes In The Eyes Of Abraham Lincoln"/"The Ballad Of Johnny Clyde" (1974)
- "Just About Out"/"Neon Lights" (1975)
- "Cheatin' Time"/"It's Not The Coffee" (1975)
- "Annie-Over-Time"/"Back Loving" (1975)
- "Twilight Time"/"Belly-Rubbin' Country Soul" (1976)
- "Carl Richard Mann of Huntingdon, Tennessee 1942 - 2020 Obituary". chasefh.com. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
- Biography, AllMusic
- "Carl Mann Songs • Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography". Musicvf.com. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
- Mehr, Bob (December 16, 2020). "Rockabilly great, 'Mona Lisa' hitmaker Carl Mann dead at 78". commercialappeal.com. Retrieved December 17, 2020.