Johnny Mathis was appropriately dubbed “the Voice of Romance” for good cause. Over the course of more than 60 years, he has lent his iconic voice — warm, rich, and velvety — to an endless stream of love songs and slow jams.
Famous thanks to the success of his hits “Wonder Wonderful!,” “It’s Not for Me to Say,” and “Chances Are” in the ’50s. He has outlasted many of his contemporaries and experimented with a wide range of musical genres since then, from Brazilian music to disco.
His longevity is demonstrated by the fact that he has released music for over 70 years and has released several Christmas albums. On Sunday, the 86-year-old Mathis will take the stage at the Saenger Theatre to perform.
Exactly at 7:30, the show will begin. The cheapest tickets start at $59 with fees. Recently, he called from his home in southern California to reflect on what it means to be Johnny Mathis.
Where does Johnny Mathis come from, and how old is he?
Upon entering this world on September 30, 1935, the world was introduced to Johnny Mathis. In 2020, he turned 85 years old. He is the fourth of seven kids born to Clem Mathis and Mildred Boyd, and he was born in Gilmer, Texas.
His family tree includes both Brazilian and Spanish branches. After hearing his kid play, his vaudeville-worked father purchased him an old piano for $25 (about $348 in 2017 USD) and encouraged him to pursue music.
The potential for athleticism was there in him.
In his teenage years, Mathis was a standout athlete at George Washington High School in San Francisco.
In addition to playing basketball, he also competed in the high jump and hurdles. Aiming to one day teach English and physical education, he enrolled at San Francisco State College in 1954 on an athletic scholarship.
At 6 feet, 5 and a half inches, Mathis also established a new personal best in the high jump. This is still one of the best marks ever recorded at the university, and it came within two inches of the Olympic record at the time.
What about Johnny Mathis, is he married?
After years of conjecture, singer Johnny Mathis came out as gay in 2017. He declared to Us Magazine, “I hail from the City by the Bay.” Being homosexual is not a big deal in the Bay Area.
Like the vast majority of human beings, I’ve dated a few girls and a few guys. Still, I’ve never tied the knot. I had always been aware of my sexual orientation as being homosexual.
What are the most well-known Johnny Mathis songs?
To make up for a lost time, Mathis scored his first No. 1 single in 20 years following “Chances Are” (1968), a duet with Deniece Williams in the 1970s.
When “Misty” led director Clint Eastward to incorporate the song in his 1971 psychological thriller “Play Misty for Me,” younger audiences were also introduced to the Mathis velvety voice.
“I had nothing to do with the making of the movie but was over the moon when I saw the film included my favorite song!” exclaimed Mathis. “Since we became friends, Clint and I have enjoyed many rounds of golf together.”
Mathis has had many influential friends in his life and career, but one in particular sticks out. Mathis claims, “I started singing because my dad sang.” He was my best friend, and it’s a miracle that he lived to hear me sing in public.
Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University Montgomery in Alabama and has contributed articles, essays, and interviews to a wide variety of periodicals.