Johnny Mercer
Johnny Mercer
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.
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Johnny Mercer's personal information overview.
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Howard Keel on TCM: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, SHOW BOAT, KISS ME KATE - Alt Film Guide (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Personally, I much prefer the verve displayed everywhere in Stanley Donen's musicalized version of The Rape of the Sabine Women, from the performances of Jane Powell and Howard Keel, to the songs by Saul Chaplin, Gene de Paul, and Johnny Mercer,
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Robert Torrey: Who's writing song of our hard times? - Record-Searchlight
Google News - over 5 years
All await the synthesis for the young and the adolescents that sets cues and moods for future learning and experience through shaped history of available common terms. Where are Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichel when you need them?
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'It's frustrating because we're very close to performing' - Irish Times
Google News - over 5 years
RUGBY: THE FAMOUS American lyricist and musician Johnny Mercer once wrote a song for Bing Crosby that contained the lyrics: You've got to accentuate the positive, Eliminate the negative, Latch on to the affirmative, And don't mess with mister
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Brad Halls spotlights Johnny Mercer's words and music - Northumberland Today
Google News - over 5 years
9 and 10 to turn the spotlight on The Songs of Johnny Mercer. This series celebrates the great jazz and popular songs of the last century, as well as the great song writers and music from stage and screen. Performances have featured dozens of the
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Samuel Joseph Presents An Intimate Evening With Songwriter John Bucchino - Broadway World
Google News - over 5 years
August 22 and 23 ONLY Among his honors are The Johnny Mercer Songwriter Award, The ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, The Jonathan Larson Award, The Kleban Award, The Los Angeles Ovation Award (for the revue IT'S ONLY LIFE),
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'Blues in the Night' brought change, still solid after 60 years - KPLU News for Seattle and the Northwest
Google News - over 5 years
Written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, it's considered to be a landmark in American popular music because it was one of the first times that rural black dialect and an explicitly bluesy melody was used in a popular song
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San Jose Jazz Festival: a memorable event, but with room for improvement - San Jose Mercury News
Google News - over 5 years
There's a classic tune by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer called "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive." So let's do that -- let's start on a positive note -- while assessing last weekend's 22nd annual San Jose Jazz Festival
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Right on Q - Coast Weekend
Google News - over 5 years
All fantasy aside, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Jimmy Van Heusen, Richard Rodgers, Billy Strayhorn ... these and other songwriters and lyricists have left a legacy of music that's perfect in a piano bar
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Vocal big-band in store at Egan PAC - Green Bay Press Gazette
Google News - over 5 years
Whether backed by symphony orchestra, big band or a simple rhythm section (as is the case here), Five By Design embraces the melodies, lush harmonies and swinging rhythms that evoke the names of Glenn Miller, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer
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'Breakfast at Tiffany's' Blu-ray Announced an Detailed - High-Def Digest
Google News - over 5 years
Starring Audrey Hepburn, Patricia Neal, and George Peppard, the film was nominated for five Academy Awards and won two including Best Music/Original Song - Moon River (Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer) and Best Music/Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy
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Mark Your Calendar: Joe Bonamassa - Connect Savannah.com
Google News - over 5 years
Blues guitarist extraordinaire Joe Bonamassa brings his band to the Savannah Civic Center's Johnny Mercer Theatre Nov. 20. That's quite a ways off, but tickets ($49-$79) are on sale now. Called "A certifiable blues guitar hero and the
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Mike Yawn: Johnny Mercer, the poet of Savannah - Huntsville Item
Google News - over 5 years
By Mike Yawn The Huntsville Item HUNTSVILLE — Johnny Mercer, the lyrical poet of Savannah, Georgia, passed away 35 years ago this month, marking the end of a five-decade musical career that began early in the Golden Age of Songwriting and extended
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Christine Ebersole Celebrates Charles Strouse With Applause! Applause! Concert ... - Playbill.com
Google News - over 5 years
Two-time Tony Award-winning actress Christine Ebersole leads a tribute to Tony-winning composer Charles Strouse June 25 as part of the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project in Evanston, IL. Ebersole (Grey Gardens, Blithe Spirit,
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Sam Broverman cuts a record of classic Johnny Mercer tunes - National Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
His record, a collection of twelve Johnny Mercer tunes recorded with a live orchestra, is available on iTunes, CD Baby and at brovermusic.com. Q Why record an album of Johnny Mercer covers? A It was rock 'n' roll records when I was a teenager,
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Emerging Songwriters Perform at Northwestern June 24-25 - Broadway World
Google News - over 5 years
A celebration of acclaimed and emerging songwriters, writing teams and singers is the first of two June 24-25 weekend events that will conclude the sixth annual weeklong Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project, presented by the American Music
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Johnny Mercer
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1976
    Age 66
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Among these was a piece titled "When October Goes", a melancholy remembrance of lost love. Manilow applied his own melody to the lyric and issued it as a single in 1984, when it became a top 10 Adult Contemporary hit in the United States. The song has since become a jazz standard, with notable recordings by Rosemary Clooney, Nancy Wilson, and Megon McDonough, among other performers. In 1980, the Songwriters Hall of Fame established the annual Johnny Mercer Award as its highest honor, for songwriters with a history of outstanding creative works. Mercer was honored by the United States Postal Service with his portrait placed on a stamp in 1996. Mercer's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1628 Vine Street is a block away from the Capitol Records building at 1750 Vine Street. Mercer was given tribute in John Berendt's 1994 book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The 1997 movie by Clint Eastwood based on Berendt's novel features prominently Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer song "Skylark", sung by k.d. lang. The movie soundtrack is a tribute album to Johnny Mercer, containing 14 Mercer songs performed by a variety of jazz and pop recording artists.
  • 1975
    Age 65
    In 1975, Paul McCartney approached Mercer for a collaboration but Mercer was ill, and an inoperable brain tumor was diagnosed.
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  • 1974
    Age 64
    He also recorded two albums of his songs in London in 1974, with the Pete Moore Orchestra, and with the Harry Roche Constellation, later compiled into a single album and released as My Huckleberry Friend: Johnny Mercer Sings the Songs of Johnny Mercer.
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    In 1974, he collaborated on the West End production The Good Companions.
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  • 1971
    Age 61
    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.
    More Details Hide Details It was recorded live as An Evening with Johnny Mercer.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1969
    Age 59
    In 1969, Mercer helped publishers Abe Olman and Howie Richmond found the National Academy of Popular Music's Songwriters Hall of Fame.
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  • 1965
    Age 55
    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.
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  • 1964
    Age 54
    However, Mercer and Mandel did collaborate on the 1964 song, Emily, from the motion picture, The Americanization of Emily starring Julie Andrews.
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    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.
    More Details Hide Details Yet Mercer always remained humble about his work, attributing much to luck and timing. He was fond of telling the story of how he was offered the job of doing the lyrics for Johnny Mandel's music on The Sandpiper, only to have the producer turn his lyrics down.
  • 1963
    Age 53
    Mercer, also with Mancini, wrote "Charade" for the 1963 Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn romantic thriller with the same name.
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  • 1962
    Age 52
    The Tony Bennett classic "I Wanna Be Around" was written by Mercer in 1962 and the Sinatra hit "Summer Wind" in 1965.
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  • 1961
    Age 51
    In 1961, his daughter Amanda gave birth to Mercer's first grandson, Jim Corwin.
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    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.
    More Details Hide Details The back-to-back Oscars were the first time a songwriting team had achieved that feat.
  • FORTIES
  • 1954
    Age 44
    In 1954, he appeared on NBC's The Donald O'Connor Show.
    More Details Hide Details His more successful songs of the 1950s include "The Glow-Worm" (sung by the Mills Brothers) and "Something’s Gotta Give".
  • 1953
    Age 43
    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.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1942
    Age 32
    Mercer founded Capitol Records in Hollywood in 1942, with the help of producer Buddy DeSylva and record store owner Glen Wallichs.
    More Details Hide Details He also co-founded Cowboy Records. Mercer by the mid-1940s enjoyed a reputation as one of the premier Hollywood lyricists. He was adaptable, listening carefully and absorbing a tune and then transforming it into his own style. Like Irving Berlin, he was a close follower of cultural fashion and changing language, which in part accounted for the long tenure of his success. Mercer preferred to have the music first, taking it home and working on it. He claimed composers had no problem with this method provided that he returned with the lyrics. Only with Arlen and Whiting did Mercer occasionally work side-by-side. Mercer was often asked to write new lyrics to already popular tunes. The lyrics to "Laura", "Midnight Sun", and "Satin Doll" were all written after the melodies had become hits. He was also asked to compose English lyrics to foreign songs, the most famous example being "Autumn Leaves". based on the French "Les Feuilles Mortes".
  • 1941
    Age 31
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Garland married Rose to stop the affair, but the effect on Mercer lingered, adding to the emotional depth of his lyrics. Their affair revived later. Mercer stated that his song "I Remember You" was the most direct expression of his feelings for Garland.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1939
    Age 29
    In 1939, Mercer wrote the lyrics to a melody by Ziggy Elman, a trumpet player with Benny Goodman.
    More Details Hide Details The song was "And the Angels Sing" and, although recorded by Bing Crosby and Count Basie, it was the Goodman version with vocal by Martha Tilton and memorable klezmer style trumpet solo by Elman that became the Number One hit. Years later, the title was inscribed on Mercer's tombstone. Mercer was invited to the Camel Caravan radio show in New York to sing his hits and create satirical songs with the Benny Goodman orchestra, then becoming the emcee of the nationally broadcast show for several months. Two more hits followed shortly, "Day In, Day Out" and "Fools Rush In", and Mercer in short order had five of the top ten songs on the popular radio show Your Hit Parade. Mercer also started a short-lived publishing company during his stay in New York. On a lucky streak, Mercer undertook a musical with Hoagy Carmichael, but Walk with Music (originally called Three After Three) was a bomb, with story quality not matching that of the score. Another disappointment for Mercer was the selection of Johnny Burke as the long-term songwriter for the Hope-Crosby "Road" pictures. Mercer was thirty and his life and career were riding high.
  • 1938
    Age 28
    A duet "Mr. Crosby and Mr. Mercer" was recorded and became a hit in 1938.
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  • 1937
    Age 27
    In 1937, Mercer began employment with the Warner Brothers studio, working with the veteran composer Richard Whiting (Ain't We Got Fun?
    More Details Hide Details soon producing his standard, "Too Marvelous for Words", followed by "Hooray for Hollywood". After Whiting’s sudden death from a heart attack, Mercer joined forces with Harry Warren and created "Jeepers Creepers", which earned Mercer his first Oscar nomination for Best Song (1938). It was given a memorable recording by Louis Armstrong. Another hit with Warren in 1938 was "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby". The pair also created "Hooray for Spinach", a comic song produced for the film Naughty but Nice in 1939. During a lull at Warners, Mercer revived his singing career. He joined Bing Crosby’s informal minstrel shows put on by the "Westwood Marching and Chowder Club", which included many Hollywood luminaries and brought together Crosby and Bob Hope.
  • 1936
    Age 26
    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.
    More Details Hide Details His second hit that year was "Goody Goody".
  • 1935
    Age 25
    It was only when Mercer moved to Hollywood in 1935 that his career was assured.
    More Details Hide Details Writing songs for movies offered two distinct advantages. The use of sensitive microphones for recording and of the lip-synching of pre-recorded songs liberated songwriters from dependence on the long vowel endings and long sustained notes required for live performance. Performers such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers could now sing more conversationally and more nonchalantly. Mercer, as a singer, was attuned to this shift and his style fitted the need perfectly. Mercer's first Hollywood assignment was not the Astaire-Rogers vehicle of which he had dreamed but a B-movie college musical, Old Man Rhythm, to which he contributed two undistinguished songs and even worse acting. His next project, To Beat the Band, was another flop, but it did lead to a meeting and a collaboration with Fred Astaire on the moderately successful Astaire song "I’m Building Up to an Awful Let-Down". Though all but overwhelmed by the glitter of Hollywood, Mercer found his beloved jazz and nightlife lacking. As he wrote, “Hollywood was never much of a night town. Everybody had to get up too early... the movie people were in bed with the chickens (or each other).” Mercer was now in Bing Crosby’s hard-drinking circle and enjoyed Crosby’s company and hipster talk. Unfortunately, Mercer also began to drink more at parties and was prone to vicious outbursts when under the influence of alcohol, contrasting sharply with his ordinarily genial and gentlemanly behavior. Often he would assuage the guilt he felt for this behavior by sending roses to the friend or acquaintance he had treated unkindly while drunk the following day.
  • 1932
    Age 22
    In 1932, Mercer won a contest to sing with the Paul Whiteman orchestra, but it did not help his situation significantly.
    More Details Hide Details He made his recording debut, singing with Frank Trumbauer's Orchestra, on April 5 of that year. Mercer then apprenticed with Yip Harburg on the score for Americana, a Depression-flavored revue famous for "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? " (not a Mercer composition), which gave Mercer invaluable training. After several songs which didn’t catch fire, during his time with Whiteman, he wrote and sang "Pardon My Southern Accent". Mercer’s fortunes improved dramatically with a chance pairing with Indiana-born Hoagy Carmichael, already famous for the standard "Stardust", who was intrigued by the “young, bouncy butterball of a man from Georgia.” The two spent a year laboring over "Lazybones", which became a hit one week after its first radio broadcast, and each received a large royalty check of $1250. A regional song in pseudo-black dialect, it captured the mood of the times, especially in rural America. Mercer became a member of ASCAP and a recognized “brother” in the Tin Pan Alley fraternity, receiving congratulations from Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter among others. Paul Whiteman lured Mercer back to his orchestra (to sing, write comic skits and compose songs), temporarily breaking up the working team with Carmichael.
  • 1931
    Age 21
    In 1931, Mercer married Ginger Meehan, a chorus girl, later a seamstress; and in 1940, when he was 30, the Mercers adopted a daughter, Amanda ("Mandy").
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    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.
    More Details Hide Details The new Mrs. Mercer quit the chorus line and became a seamstress, and to save money the newlyweds moved in with Ginger’s mother in Brooklyn. Johnny did not inform his own parents of his marriage until after the fact, perhaps in part because he knew that Ginger being Jewish would not sit comfortably with some members of his family, and he worried they would try to talk him out of marrying her.
  • 1930
    Age 20
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Mercer met his future wife at the show, chorus girl Ginger Meehan. Meehan had earlier been one of the many chorus girls pursued by the young crooner Bing Crosby. Through Miller’s father, an executive at the famous publisher T. B. Harms, Mercer's first song was published. It was recorded by Joe Venuti and his New Yorkers. The 20-year-old Mercer began to hang out with other songwriters and to learn the trade. He traveled to California to undertake a lyric writing assignment for the musical Paris in the Spring and met his idols Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. Mercer found the experience sobering and realized that he much preferred free-standing lyric writing to writing on demand for musicals.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1928
    Age 18
    Mercer moved to New York in 1928, when he was 19.
    More Details Hide Details The music he loved, jazz and blues, was booming in Harlem and Broadway was bursting with musicals and revues from George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin. Vaudeville, though beginning to fade, was still a strong musical presence. Mercer’s first few jobs were as a bit actor (billed as John Mercer). Holed up in a Greenwich Village apartment with plenty of time on his hands and a beat-up piano to play, Mercer soon returned to singing and lyric writing. He secured a day job at a brokerage house and sang at night. Pooling his meager income with that of his roommates, Mercer managed to keep going, sometimes on little more than oatmeal. One night he dropped in on Eddie Cantor backstage to offer a comic song, but although Cantor didn’t use the song, he began encouraging Mercer’s career.
  • 1927
    Age 17
    Mercer attended exclusive Woodberry Forest boys prep school in Virginia until 1927.
    More Details Hide Details Though not a top student, he was active in literary and poetry societies and as a humor writer for the school’s publications. In addition, his exposure to classic literature augmented his already rich store of vocabulary and phraseology. He began to scribble ingenious, sometimes strained, rhymed phrases for later use. Mercer was also the class clown and a prankster, and member of the "hop" committee that booked musical entertainment on campus. Mercer was already somewhat of an authority on jazz at an early age. His yearbook stated, “No orchestra or new production can be authoritatively termed ‘good’ until Johnny’s stamp of approval has been placed upon it. His ability to ‘get hot’ under all conditions and at all times is uncanny.” Mercer began to write songs, an early effort being "Sister Susie, Strut Your Stuff", and quickly learned the powerful effect songs had on girls.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1909
    Born
    Born on November 18, 1909.
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