Johnny Mercer

Born Nov 18, 1909

John Herndon "Johnny" Mercer was an American lyricist, songwriter and singer. He is best known as a lyricist, but he also composed music. He was also a popular singer who recorded his own songs as well as those written by others. From the mid-1930s through the mid-1950s, many of the songs Mercer wrote and performed were among the most popular hits of the time.… Read More

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1909 Birth Born on November 18, 1909.


1927 17 Years Old Mercer attended exclusive Woodberry Forest boys prep school in Virginia until 1927. … Read More
1928 18 Years Old Mercer moved to New York in 1928, when he was 19. … Read More


1930 20 Years Old Mercer's first lyric, for the song "Out of Breath (and Scared to Death of You)", composed by friend Everett Miller, appeared in a musical revue The Garrick Gaieties in 1930. … Read More
1931 21 Years Old 1 More Event
Upon his return, he got a job as staff lyricist for Miller Music for a $25-a-week draw which give him a base income and enough prospects to win over and marry Ginger in 1931. … Read More
1932 22 Years Old In 1932, Mercer won a contest to sing with the Paul Whiteman orchestra, but it did not help his situation significantly. … Read More
1935 25 Years Old It was only when Mercer moved to Hollywood in 1935 that his career was assured. … Read More
1936 26 Years Old Mercer’s first big Hollywood song "I'm an Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande" was inspired by a road trip through Texas (he wrote both the music and the lyric). It was performed by Crosby in the film Rhythm on the Range in 1936, and from thereon the demand for Mercer as a lyricist took off. … Read More
1937 27 Years Old In 1937, Mercer began employment with the Warner Brothers studio, working with the veteran composer Richard Whiting (Ain't We Got Fun? … Read More
1938 28 Years Old A duet "Mr. Crosby and Mr. Mercer" was recorded and became a hit in 1938.
1939 29 Years Old In 1939, Mercer wrote the lyrics to a melody by Ziggy Elman, a trumpet player with Benny Goodman. … Read More


1941 31 Years Old In 1941, shortly after the death of his father, Mercer began an intense affair with 19-year-old Judy Garland while she was engaged to composer David Rose. … Read More
1942 32 Years Old Mercer founded Capitol Records in Hollywood in 1942, with the help of producer Buddy DeSylva and record store owner Glen Wallichs. … Read More


1953 43 Years Old Mercer made occasional television appearances. In the 1953–1954 season, he guest starred as himself on ABC's Jukebox Jury, a musical/quiz program on which celebrities judge the latest releases from the recording companies.
1954 44 Years Old In 1954, he appeared on NBC's The Donald O'Connor Show. … Read More


1961 51 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1961, he wrote the lyrics to "Moon River" for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's and for Days of Wine and Roses, both with music by Henry Mancini, and Mercer received his third and fourth Oscars for Best Song. … Read More
1962 - 1963 2 More Events
1964 54 Years Old 1 More Event
An indication of the high esteem in which Mercer was held can be observed in that in 1964 he became the only lyricist to have his work recorded as a volume of Ella Fitzgerald's celebrated Songbook albums for the Verve label. … Read More
1965 55 Years Old The producer offered the commission to Paul Francis Webster and the result was "The Shadow of Your Smile" which became a huge hit, winning the 1965 Oscar for Best Original Song.
1969 59 Years Old In 1969, Mercer helped publishers Abe Olman and Howie Richmond found the National Academy of Popular Music's Songwriters Hall of Fame.


1971 61 Years Old In 1971, Mercer presented a retrospective of his career for the "Lyrics and Lyricists Series" in New York, including an omnibus of his "greatest hits" and a performance by Margaret Whiting. … Read More
1974 64 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1974, he collaborated on the West End production The Good Companions.
1975 65 Years Old In 1975, Paul McCartney approached Mercer for a collaboration but Mercer was ill, and an inoperable brain tumor was diagnosed.
1976 66 Years Old 1 More Event
…  After Mercer's death in 1976 from a brain tumor, his widow, Ginger Mehan Mercer, arranged to give some unfinished lyrics he had written to Manilow to possibly develop into complete songs. … Read More
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