About Johnny Mathis
Johnny Mathis, the legendary singer known as “The Velvet Voice,” has released more than 70 studio albums spanning a variety of musical styles. But he’s perhaps best known for his 1958 album Merry Christmas—one of the most popular holiday albums of all time.
• Mathis began taking voice lessons at 13, and sang in his first band a few years later with high school friends in San Francisco. He signed a record deal in 1955 around the time he turned 20 and released his self-titled debut album in 1956.
• He first reached the charts with his second album, 1957’s Wonderful Wonderful, which made it to No. 4—the first of 10 consecutive Top 10 studio LPs he would release through 1960.
• Mathis also began landing singles in the Top 40, starting in 1957 with the No. 13 hit “Wonderful! Wonderful!” He topped the charts the same year with “Chances Are,” which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
• His 1958 album Johnny’s Greatest Hits has been called “the original greatest-hits package,” and it was a smash. The album spent 490 weeks on the Billboard pop albums chart—a record that stood until Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon broke it in 1983.
• Mathis reached No. 1 again in 1959 with Heavenly, which spent five weeks in the top spot. The album was Mathis’ first (and only) non-compilation to hit No. 1.
• He released 22 studio albums in the 1960s, 10 of which made the Top 40. His best-charting ’60s album was 1966’s Top 10 hit The Shadow of Your Smile, which included two Beatles covers, a bossa nova standard, and a song from the musical West Side Story.
• Though Mathis’s commercial fortunes faded a bit in the ’70s, he still released 20 albums, including the platinum-selling No. 9 hit You Light Up My Life in 1978. The single from the album, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late,” topped the Hot 100 chart.
• Mathis cut his output in half in the ’80s, releasing 10 albums. Only four of them made the Billboard 200 chart. Another 11 albums have followed since 1990, including LPs that focused on the songs of Duke Ellington, Broadway, Diane Warren, country music, and, of course, Christmas.
• In 2003, Mathis received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Two more of his songs, “Misty” and “It’s Not for Me to Say,” were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002 and 2008, respectively.
BORNSeptember 30, 1935