John Royce "Johnny" Mathis (born September 30, 1935) is an American singer of popular music. Mathis concentrated on romantic jazz and pop standards for the adult contemporary audience through the 1980s. Starting his career with singles of standards, he became more popular as an album artist, with several dozen of his albums achieving gold or platinum status, and seventy-three making the Billboard Charts.
Although he is frequently described as a romantic singer, his discography includes jazz, traditional pop, Brazilian and Spanish music, Soul, R&B, soft rock, Broadway, Tin Pan Alley standards, some blues and country songs, and even a few disco tunes for his album “Mathis Magic” (1979). Mathis also remains associated with holiday music having recorded nine Christmas albums.
His first album, 1956’s “Johnny Mathis: A New Sound In Popular Song,” was a slow-selling jazz album. In late 1956, Mathis recorded two of his most popular songs, "Wonderful! Wonderful!" and "It's Not For Me To Say."
In 1958, “Johnny’s Greatest Hits” was released and was the first ever Greatest Hits album in the music industry. It began the Greatest Hits tradition copied by every record company. “Johnny's Greatest Hits” spent an unprecedented 490 consecutive weeks (nine and a half years) on the Billboard album chart, a feat earning him a place in the “Guinness Book of World Records” and not broken until the 1980s by Pink Floyd's “The Dark Side of the Moon.”
Mathis had two of his biggest hits in the years 1962 and 1963, with "Gina" (#6) and "What Will Mary Say" (#9). Mathis established Jon Mat Records, Inc., in 1967 to produce his recordings, and Rojon Productions, Inc. in September 1964 to handle all of his concert, theater, showroom and television appearances, and all promotional and charitable activities. Since that time, Mathis has taken sole responsibility for his career, and with the exception of a four-year break with Mercury Records in the mid-1960s, he has been with Columbia Records throughout his recording career. Mathis has the distinction of having the longest stay of any recording artist on the Columbia Record label, having been with the label from 1956 to 1963 and from 1968 to the present
Pieces of music from numerous Mathis albums continue to be used throughout motion pictures and television with great effect to impart nostalgia or mood themes, for example hit #1 hit "Chances Are" memorably used during an alien visit in the 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and various numbers currently in the hit TV series “Mad Men.”
He has had five of his albums on the Billboard charts simultaneously, an achievement equaled by only two other singers, Frank Sinatra and Barry Manilow. He has released 200 singles and had 73 songs charted around the world. Mathis recordings have sold well over 350 million worldwide and he is the 3rd most successful recording artist in the US.
He has received three Grammy awards. In 1979, his hit duet "The Last Time I Felt Like This" from the film “Same Time, Next Year” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Mathis and Jane Olivor sang the song at the Oscar ceremony. This was his second performance at the Academy Awards.
Mathis continues to perform but from 2000 onwards has limited his concert engagements to fifty to sixty appearances per year. Mathis received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Mathis returned to the UK Top 20 album chart in 2007 with the Sony BMG release "The Very Best of Johnny Mathis" and again in 2008 with the Columbia album "A Night to Remember." Also in 2007, he was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.