Lordy. Johnny Mathis is eighty years old today!
He may be a little too "middle-of-the-road" for some tastes, but I have always had a soft spot for a halfway-decent crooner, and several of his numbers are classics, not least these two:
His version of the Stylistics' I'm Stone In Love With You:
- Encouraged by his ex-Vaudeville father, young Johnny was classically-trained as a singer, and was "discovered" while singing nightclub jazz in San Francisco.
- It was touch-and-go whether he would take up singing as a career, as he was short-listed to train for the 1956 Olympics as a high-jumper.
- With 71 albums to date, Mr Mathis has sold well over 350 million records worldwide; his Greatest Hits spent a record-breaking 490 weeks in the US charts, and he has had five of his albums on the Billboard charts simultaneously, an achievement equalled by only two other singers: Frank Sinatra and Barry Manilow.
- His Xmas hit When a Child Is Born (Soleado) was Number 1 in the UK for three weeks in 1976, out-selling that year Abba Money Money Money, Queen Somebody To Love, Donna Summer Love To Love You Baby, Rod Stewart The Killing Of Georgie and Diana Ross Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To) - yet it was not even released in the States.
- His mansion in Hollywood Hills was originally built by billionaire Howard Hughes.
- Johnny came out as gay in the 1980s, but famously avoids talking about his private life; he grants very few interviews to the media in general.
- After sixty years in the business, he is still touring.