63 Years in Music: Johnny Mathis is a 'Lucky, Lucky Person'

May 9, 2018

It's not for us to say, but chances are you're familiar with the wonderful, wonderful voice of Johnny Mathis (and bonus points if you caught all of those song references).  Mathis recorded his first song in 1955, his first album in 1956, and has recorded 78 albums since then.  Most recently, his 1982 album, I Love My Lady, was released for the first time on vinyl - in time for this year's Record Store Day.

Mathis, along with other voices like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, provided the romantic soundtrack for generations of people.  But Mathis says he didn't go into music thinking people would listen to him on a romantic night out.

"I just sang," Mathis recalls.  "And then somebody said, 'Well it always sounds romantic, what you sing.' And I said, 'Yeah, but I sing a lot of stuff - I sing the Kol Nidre, I sing Eli Eli.' And they said 'No, no, you’re a romantic singer.'

"And I talked to my dad, and he said, “Son, maybe that’s not so bad.'"

But not only has Mathis kept recording for 63 years, he continues to perform for live audiences, such as the one that will gather Friday night at Milwaukee's Riverside Theater.  The 82-year-old Mathis says aside from his interest in golf, he can think of no other life he would enjoy as much as the life of a working musician, surrounded by the musicians he's played with for years.

"I don't have to deal with a lot of things I don't know anything about," he says.  "All I have to do is make sure I'm ready to perform, and I know that I am blessed in this way.  I'm a very, very lucky person."