Johnny Mathis had heard Erroll Garner play the song, and told him that he'd love to sing it if Garner had lyrics for it. Garner was in attendance when Mathis later recorded the song. The Mathis recording of "Misty" sold well over two million copies in the US alone.
The song is most associated with Mathis despite various recordings over the years by other artists. The Johnny Mathis version of the song (recorded in April 1959) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.
Although there were already several released versions, the Mathis version recorded in April 1959 popularized this virtually unknown Garner song. It inspired Clint Eastwood to use the instrumental in his 1971 film Play Misty for Me, a low-budget film that proved to be a box-office success. Eastwood, a fan of Mathis, ended up paying a nominal fee for the Garner recording in his film.
In 1975 Ray Stevens released an up-tempo country rendition of this song. It is the title track of his twelfth studio album of the same name. Stevens recounted that the song was recorded on the second take when experimenting in the studio. His version won a Grammy in the category of Music Arrangement of the Year.