“There are a number of good singers, a few great singers, then there is Johnny Mathis.” - Letter from Barbra Streisand
The fourth of seven children, John Royce Mathis was born on September 30, 1935 in Gilmer, Texas to Clem and Mildred Mathis. As a small boy, the family moved to Post Street in San Francisco. It was there that he learned an appreciation of music from his father who taught him his first song, “My Blue Heaven”. At age eight, his father purchased an old upright piano for $25. When he brought it home, it wouldn't fit through the front door. So that evening, Johnny stayed up all night to watch his father dismantle the piano, get it into the small living room of their basement apartment and then reassemble it. Clem Mathis, who worked briefly as a musician back in Texas playing the piano and singing on stage, would continue to teach his son many songs and routines. Johnny had proven to be the most eager of the children to learn all about music. He sang in the church choir, school functions, community events, for visitors in their home as well as amateur shows in the San Francisco area. He was also a successful track & field athlete, and was offered a chance to compete in the Olympic Trials. In the same week Columbia Records called, so he choose to go to New York to record his first album in March of 1956.
Best-known for his supremely popular hits like “Chances Are," "It's Not For Me To Say," and "Misty”, Mathis has recorded more than 80 albums, 6 Christmas albums, and has sold millions of records worldwide. During his extensive career he has had 3 songs inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, achieved 50 Hits on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary Chart, and ranks as the all-time #6 album artist in the history of Billboard’s pop album charts. He has received 5 Grammy Nominations, and in 2003 he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
In spite of a very busy tour schedule & many charity events, Johnny still finds time to enjoy a little free time. Johnny was an avid tennis player until the late 1960s, when a good friend turned him on to his now life-long love of golf. He plays golf almost every day when he's not traveling and has sung at many golf banquets such as the Ryder Cup. After almost 60 years as a recording artist, what’s next for Johnny? “I don’t think about retiring. I think about how I can keep singing for the rest of my life. I just have to pace myself.”