Johnny Mathis
Born: John Royce Mathis
Sep 30, 1935 in Gilmer, Texas, USA
Johnny was an exceptional high-school athlete in San Francisco, but was wooed away from a college track scholarship and a potential spot on the Olympic squad by the chance to sing. He became one of the last and most popular in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the rock-dominated 1960s, Johnny concentrated on romantic readings of jazz and pop standards for the ever-shrinking adult-contemporary audience of the '60s and '70s. Though he started with a flurry of singles, Johnny later made it big in the album market, where a dozen of his LPs hit gold or platinum and over sixty made the charts. He concentrated on theme-oriented albums of showtunes and traditional favorites during the '60s and began using soft rock by the '70s remaining a popular concert attraction well into the '90s.

Johnny studied with an opera coach prior to his teenage years, and was almost lured into the profession. His other inspirations were the smoother crossover jazz vocalists of the 1940s - Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine and Lena Horne.

Intially, Johnny was signed to a management contract by club-owner Helen Noga, who introduced the singer to George Avakian, jazz producer for Columbia Records. Avakian signed him and used orchestras conducted by Teo Macero, Gil Evans and John Lewis to record Mathis' self-titled first album in 1957. Despite the name talent and choice of standards, it was mostly ignored upon release.

Columbia A&R executive Mitch Miller - known for his desperately pop-slanted Singalong albums and TV show -- decided the only recourse was switching Mathis to Miller's brand of pop balladry, and the formula worked like a charm; the LP Wonderful, Wonderful spawned a Top 20 hit later in 1957 with its title track, which was followed by the number five "It's Not for Me to Say" and his first number one, "Chances Are." From that point on, Johnny Mathis concentrated strictly on lush ballads for adult-contemporary listeners.

Though he charted consistently, hit singles were rare for Johnny during the late '50s and '60s - half of his career Top Ten output had occurred in 1957 alone - so he chose to focus instead on the burgeoning album market, much like Frank Sinatra, his main rival during the late '50s as the most popular traditional male vocalist. Johnny moved away from showtunes and traditional pop into soft rock during the '70s, and found his second number one single, "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late," in 1978. Recorded as a duet with Deniece Williams, the single prompted Johnny to begin trying duets with a variety of partners (including Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight and Nana Mouskouri), though none of the singles enjoyed the success of the original. Johnny continued to release and sell albums throughout the '90s -- his fifth decade of recording for Columbia -- among them 1998's Because You Loved Me: Songs of Diane Warren and 2000's Johnny Mathis On Broadway.

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Order Your CD's
Johnny Mathis - Heavenly
  1. 1. Heavenly
  2. Hello, Young Lovers
  3. A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening
  4. A Ride On A Rainbow
  5. More Than You Know
  6. Something I Dreamed Last Night
  7. Misty
  8. Stranger In Paradise
  9. Moonlight Becomes You
  10. They Say It's Wonderful
  11. I'll Be Easy To Find
  12. That's All

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