16 Most Requested Songs
1. Chances Are (3:00)
(A. Stillman/R. Allen)
2. It's Not For Me To Say (3:03)
(A. Stillman/R. Allen)
3. Misty (3:32)
(J. Burke/E. Garner)
4. Wild Is The Wind (2:26)
(N. Washington/D. Tiomkin)
5. Wonderful! Wonderful! (2:46)
(B. Raleigh/S. Edwards)
6. Maria (3:44)
(S. Sondheim/L. Bernstein)
7. The Twelfth Of Never (2:28)
(P.F. Webster/J. Livingston)
8. Small World (3:16)
(J. Styne/S. Sondheim)
9. Evergreen (Love Theme From "A Star Is Born") (3:14)
(P. Williams/B. Streisand)
10. Love Theme From "Romeo And Juliet" (2:53)
(L. Kusik/E. Snyder/N. Rota)
11. What Will My Mary Say (3:09)
(P. Vance/E. Snyder)
12. When Sunny Gets Blue (2:40)
(M. Fisher/J. Segal)
13. A Certain Smile (2:46)
(P.F. Webster/F. Fain)
14. (Where Do I Begin) Love Story
(From the Paramount Picture "Love Story") (2:44)
(C. Sigman/F. Lai)
15. Didn't We (2:43)
16. Gina (2:45)
(P. Vance/L. Carr)
Chance is a strange thing. In 1956 a promising, though struggling young singer was invited to try out for the United States Olympic team. At the same time he was invited to New York to cut his first record. The potential glory of the Olympics took a back seat to the more tangible glamor of the music biz, and a star was born - Johnny Mathis.
John Royce Mathis is a living example of how love and talent can triumph over financial deprivation. The fourth of seventh children born to a chauffeur and a maid employed by a wealthy California couple. Johnny and his family lived in a crowded basement apartment with nothing but a loving environment to sustain them. Somehow their parents scraped together the money for music lessons, and at 13 Johnny, the most talented, so impressed voice coach Connie Cox that for six years she taught him without charge.
Between lessons Johnny was doing all the things healthy young kids enjoy. He became the first black president of the student body at San Francisco's Theodore Roosevelt High School, excelled at basketball and track, and worked part-time to supplement the family income. He also sang whenever and wherever he could, but decided that his voice did not have the stamina for opera, so he entered San Francisco State on an athletic scholarship.
At a track meet he was forced to substitute for the singer nominated to perform the national anthem; and after delivering it successfully before 12,000 people, he realized he wasn't afraid of crowds. Suddenly a singing career looked possible and he began auditioning for club work. While performing he was heard by Helen Noga, later his manager, who persuaded George Avakian of Columbia Records to sign him. Nothing happened for six months - until the eve of the Olympic tryout.
George Avakian thought of him as a jazz singer and produced a couple of LPs with him that, while technically impressive, failed to find an audience. It wasn't until he cut "Wonderful! Wonderful!" that the Mathis formula was born: the crystal-clear diction, the intimate throb that seems to speak personally to every woman in the audience, and the almost ethereal and technically perfect use of the upper register.
The rest is history. To date he has recorded 71 albums and spent more time on the album charts than anyone but Frank Sinatra (who has enjoyed a far longer career), while his album Johnny's Greatest Hits holds the second-longest record for most weeks on the Billboard album charts - a staggering total of 490 weeks. In 1978 he gained the last elusive trophy - the No. 1 hit single "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" with Deniece Williams.
Our disc opens with "Chances Are," the song that really cemented his popularity worldwide. "It's Not For Me To Say" was featured in Johnny's first film Lizzie; and "Misty" was first heard by Johnny when he was 13 when it was played by its composer, Erroll Garner, in a San Francisco club.
"Wild Is The Wind" is a composition of movie-music specialist Dmitri Tiomkin; "Wonderful! Wonderful!" was Johnny's first hit, and jazz lost him forever. "Maria" came about through Johnny's love of West Side Story. He saw the show many times and used to hang around backstage with the actors. "The Twelfth Of Never" is an adaptation of an old English folk song, "I Gave My Love A Cherry," and in its new form still retains the beauty of the original. "Small World" is from the Broadway show Gypsy, while "Evergreen" and "The Love Theme From Romeo And Juliet" both come from successful movies, as does "Where Do I Begin," "What Will My Mary Say" is not one of Johnny's favorites, but he delivers it with subtle charm, and the public went for it in a big way. "When Sunny Gets Blue" was recorded after he heard Nat Cole "one of my favorites" sing it. "A Certain Smile" was a Parisian nightclub singer in the film of the same name; and "Didn't We" features a song first recorded by another actor of greater stature. Richard Harris, Johnny outdoes the original. The album ends with "Gina," a poem to young love and lovers interpreted to perfection by love's greatest spokesman - Johnny Mathis.
Prepared and remastered for Compact Disc by Tim Geeian and Mike Berniker
Engineered by Tim Geeian
Digitally mastered at CBS, New York
Artwork by Nancy Stahl
This compact disc consists of previously released material.
(C) 1986 CBS Inc. / (P) 1977 Jon Mat Records, Inc. / (P) 1986 CBS Inc./Manufactured by Columbia Records/CBS Inc./ 51 W. 52 Street, New York, NY/"Columbia" and logo are trademarks of CBS Inc., except in Canada where they are trademarks of CBS Records Canada Ltd. Printed in USA/WARNING: All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.