- Birth name:
- John Royce Mathis
- Date of Birth:
- 30 September 1935 Gilmer, Texas, USA
- 5' 7½" (1.71 m)
He was the fourth of seven children born to Clement and Mildred Mathis. His father performed briefly in vaudeville and exposed all of the Mathis siblings to music. Before he entered his teens, young John received vocal lessons from Connie Cox in exchange for performing chores around her home. When he entered San Francisco State College he originally had planned to become a physical education instructor. At San Francisco State he broke classmate and basketball great Bill Russell's high jump record. While in college he began performing at a small local bar called The International Settlement, where he met performers Maya Angelou and Joan Weldon. Later performances at a club called The Blackhawk caught the attention of Columbia Records producer George Avakian. When Avakian called for Mathis to make his first recording, the young singer and then college track star had to make a unique decision: whether to record or to tryout for the 1956 Olympics held in Melbourne, Australia. He chose to make his first single "Wonderful, Wonderful". To date he has recorded over 100 albums with sales in excess of 180.0 million. More than 60 of his albums have been certified gold and/or platinum. "Johnny's Greatest Hits" (1958) remained on Billboard's pop album charts for 490 weeks. "Heavenly" remained on the pop charts for 295 weeks. An avid golfer and gourmet cook, Mathis continues to record and perform at the world's most prestigious venues and has earned a permanent place in American music history.