VARIETY / March 28, 1956
Blue Angel, New York
Johnny Mathis is a promising newcomer. This Negro lad from San Francisco is an
intense singer with a musician's skill at vocal doodles that make for an arresting session. Mathis exhibits a good projection in a manner that indicates he's working
to perfect a style. The lad seems to know where he's going, and at this stage of development, it's safe to assume that he'll get along nicely.
Mathis varies his material with familiars such as "I Hear Music" and "Thou Swell," and thence into strange numbers which, while not too melodic, provide a peg upon which to pin his vocal ideas. The net effect is pleasing.
VARIETY / December 11, 1957
Black Orchid, Chicago
A nine-day engagement of Johnny Mathis by terms of an old contract insures a happy postponement of the pre-Xmas doldrums for the Black Orchid.
Unforced and undistroted enthusiasm behind a wry smile gives crooner Mathis a hold
on his audience. A clear and well controlled voice, with plenty of volume when he wants it, serves him well through a variety of ballads and rhythm tunes. Most of these trademarks, like "Wonderful, Wonderful" and "Chances Are" he belts out in a
live performance with better effect than on records. When it comes to standards,
Mathis can find a personality in a song and make it his own. Typical is his treatment of "Goody, Goody." The backing of 88er Frank Owens, with bass and drum support,
is unobtrusive but potent.
NEW YORK POST, N.Y. / May 12, 1958
Copacabana, New York
Going Out Tonight? by Martin Burden
Before we left for the Copacabana, a teenage baby sitter told us, "If you should meet Johnny Mathis, please say hello for me. No, we've never met, but the girls all
think he's" --- pause for sigh --- "wonderful."
And that's a good gauge of the way this young Californian, the hottest new singer, has caught the public's fancy in a remarkably short time. Two years ago, he was a
virtual unknown; today he stars at the plushiest clubs and is Columbia Record's No.
1 best-seller. A Copa captain noted that the announcement of Mathis' appearance brought in more reservations than any singer since Sinatra.
Maybe Johnny's success is indicative of a revolt against rock 'n' roll. The boyish, handsome, sleepy-eyed vocalist is no frantic arm-waver; he is a microphone-clutcher and his voice is usually relaxed and soothing. In many other ways, he's remindful of the early Sinatra, and that's all to the good.
Johnny very wisely sticks to a repertoire of his hit records, plus a few standards. He
is backed by his own quartet --- drums, piano, bass and bongos. When he sings something gentle, such as "It's Not For Me To Say" or "Twelfth of Never," the foursome is unobtrusive. When he cuts loose on a driving, exciting version of "Day In, Day Out" or "Lover, Come Back To Me," the rhythm instruments carry him --- and
the audience --- along at a breakneck pace. It's good listening, and the opening night crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Other Mathis numbers include "Wild Is The Wind," "Teacher's Pet," "Chances Are"
(his first big record hit), "Goody, Goody" and a medley from "My Fair Lady."
Johnny keeps his onstage talk to a minimum, a laudable habit that other, gabbier
stars might well copy.
DAILY VARIETY / January 9, 1959
Cocoanut Grove, Los Angeles
Over the past couple years, Johnny Mathis has parlayed an appealing voice and a batch of melodic tunes into a winning combination that presently has landed him in
the Cocoanut Grove for a three-week stay. It would appear he's one of the few new
singers who can lure enough spenders --- the Grove might be a bit rich for crowds of
screaming teenagers --- to make the stay a profitable one.
Timbre of his voice is Mathis' best quality, and with first-class backing from the Freddy Martin orchestra, his 45 minutes of song turns out to be first-class listening.
Mathis has more style than he did at his Crescendo date a year ago, and he now
relies less heavily on his hit songs. Well-rounded with "Cockeyed Optimist," "Lady
Is A Tramp," "Let's Do It" and "My Funny Valentine," there's still room for the succession of disk tunes --- "Wonderful, Wonderful," "It's Not For Me To Say,"
"Twelfth of Never" and "Chances Are" among them.
Vocalist segues quickly from one selection to the next, an intelligent move in light of his seeming far more at ease during the songs than between them.
VARIETY / April 27, 1960
Copacabana, New York
Pop Singer Johnny Mathis has a wider appeal than most of his contemporaries.
Outside of the Copa on opening night, there was a cluster of teen chicks waiting
to catch an autograph. Inside, the career girls and housewives gave him a reception
that clearly indicated a loving familiarity with the singer's Columbia disk clicks, past
and present. And before he wound his 50-minute turn, and had the men and boys
wrapped up too.
It's the Mathis voice more than stage presence that seems to stir mainly the romantic
imagination. It's sexy, and the style lends to a wide range of ballads. He opens with
a zesty "You Can't Hug Them All," moves on to show tunes like "Cockeyed Optimist"
and "Maria," handling the upbeat and slow romantics with equal suavity. He winds
with a medley of his record hits and could probably encore till closing time if he felt
VARIETY / April 19, 1961
Tahoe Harrah's, Nevada
Johnny Mathis is the first of the younger set headliners to play this 7-seat swankery,
and the name is proving a potent box office lure. And the reason is apprent: he sells.
Albeit Mathis made the local scene before when he set a high jump record in a track
meet at the University of Nevada in Reno in 1955 as a member of the San Francisco
State College team, this marks his nitery debut for the Reno-Tahoe area.
In his 45-minute songalog he covers it all - with the exception of rock ?n' roll - and he
does it niftily. Accent is definitely for the mature tablers, such as this room attracts.
Working smoothly and easily, he essays a multitude of titles from "Ring The Bell"
to "Maria." Enunciation is studied with strong projection. Headliner makes with
a few words before the exit numbers, but it's brief. Numbers offered included
"There Goes My Heart," an impressive "Misty," "Wild Is The Wind," and a
sensational interpretation of "Maria."
VARIETY / April 25, 1962
Eden Roc, Miami Beach, Florida
Johnny Mathis, who in other years always opened the Cafe Pompeii of this swankery,
is the closer this season. Tremendous opening turnout indicated that no matter what
time of season he's booked, Mathis is money in the bank.
Mathis is a top-impact songster working on a continuous reaction build that winds
him into more encore demands than he could fill and still not run into the next show.
He has a battery of new arrangements of the better pops and evergreens, canny
excerpts from musical theatre a la "Maria" from WESTSIDE STORY that's a
spellbinder for all types among the auditors. There's a lengthy rundown of his
recording clicks, some brief, some more detailed, all garnering rapt attention.
There's a maturity about Mathis now that holds the adults as well as the growing-
older teen set. As noted, he could have sung all night.
VARIETY / May 29, 1963
Cocoanut Grove, Los Angeles
Since first he skyrocketed out of San Francisco eight years ago, Johnny Mathis has proved
potent box office in L.A. and, on the basis of the near-capacity turnout for his opening,
there appears little if any lustre off his lure. In fact, it was the best Grove opening in many
moons, topping even that of preceding Nat Cole.
In a 50-minute turn, Mathis has command all the way, relying primarily on disclicks such
as "Chances Are," "Wonderful, Wonderful," "It's Not For Me To Say" and "Misty." It
might be observed that top reception was accorded his pair from WESTSIDE STORY -
"Maria" and "Somewhere" - to "Love Look Away" and "Every Step Of The Way."
His phrasing is crisp and he rides the melodies with perception. His lower register
punctuations as on "Every Step Of The Way" and "Stairway To Paradise" are vivid.
Jack Feirman is now batonning for the singer, and the orchestra is swelled to 23 by
addition of key strings from Allyn Ferguson's combo. In all, the show is rather awesome
from the overture of Irving Berlin evergreens, to Mathis' last, lingering note.
VARIETY / October 28, 1964
Nugget, Sparks, Nevada
Johnny Mathis has learned his stage manners well in the past four or five years, and his
growth is evident on the Nugget Circus Room stage. His action during song delivery is
conservative, well-timed and indicates a considerable amount of show biz education.
The Nugget audience is reluctant to let Mathis go even after 50 minutes of taking in the
singer's better known hits. He launches his act with "Tomorrow Mountain," followed
by his trademarked "Misty " and then some ad-libbing on familiar "The Lady Is A
Tramp." Mathis narrates for the first time well along in the show when he introduces
"Maria" from WESTSIDE STORY. Throughout his stint he appears professionally
humble and his athletic prowess is evident when he takes his bows on the Circus Room
VARIETY / January 27, 1965
Chi-Chi, Palm Springs, California
Johnny Mathis has a great voice, can belt and also keeps his tones subdued. The house
was close to capacity on opening night. His songbag includes 12 numbers and ends on
a couple of spirituals which he sings beautifully. His only prop is a round mirror hanging
above the stage and as he comes to the spirituals it revolves to reflect the spotlight in
hundreds of little mirrors to tie in with the songs. Mathis' mellow and sensitive style is particularly effective.
It is easy to understand why Mathis is a top disk seller as his voice is superb, but he has
a rather quiet stage presence. He has charm, although he seems very timid. Sometimes
the timidity seems disarmingly appealing. Mathis is a good-looking young man, with a
great form. He received tremendous palm praise and demands for encores following his
50-minute stint. Mathis brought along his own conductor, Jack Feirman, for his act.
VARIETY / August 3, 1966
Talk Of The Town, London, England
Johnny Mathis is making his West End cabaret bow at the peak of the tourist season, and
there is little doubt that the Talk of the Town will be doing hefty biz during the coming four weeks. His late-night stint is supported by Our Young Generation.
With eight gold disks to his credit and a flock of other disclicks over the past decade or so,
Mathis has a presold appeal. His act, running just under an hour, is neatly balanced and
the headliner provides a personal contrast with three costume changes. His first appearance is a conventional dark suit, he then switches to white trousers and a sweater
and finally comes out in a formal tux. His routine is designed to match his gear, and that
supplies something of a switch.
Opening strongly with "On A Wonderful Day" and "Tender Is The Night," Mathis segues
adrotily into a medley before making way for Our Young Generation, who follow with a
lively "Hey Look Me Over." With the group still onstage, Mathis returns to do a flock of
tunes. As a tribute to composer Norman Newell, who was in the firstnight audience, the
singer broke from his set routine to give a fine interpretation of "More."
Though the act is heavily loaded with ballads, Mathis' clear voice gives them strong
dramatic values and holds the capacity first-night audience. His arrangements by Allyn
Ferguson, Don Costa and D'Arnielle Pershing give added polish to the presentation.
VARIETY / July 12, 1967
Forest Hills, New York
The near capacity crowd which filled Forest Hills Stadium in Queens last Saturday was
"with it" as far as appreciation of Johnny Mathis is concerned. The audience, youngish,
in the 25-30 bracket for the most part, was very likely the same generation who've kept
the singer's record albums on the bestseller lists for the past decade. Mathis, backed this
time out by an excellent octet called Our Young Generation, responded to the evident
adulation with an ebullient, appreciative outpouring of tunes with which he has long been
associated, plus a handful of recent efforts.
With the accompaniment of a huge orchestra, Mathis ranged from ballad to novelty to
tricky variations on some evergreens. The old ones are still the best, his "Misty" sounded
as fresh as an ocean breeze. While the sound in a stadium will never compare to that
possible in a regular theatre or on records, the Johnny Mathis Show was an over-all
excellent production and deserving of its heavy attendance.
VARIETY / November 12, 1969
Waldorf-Astoria, New York
It's been some years since Johnny Mathis showcased in Manhattan. Apparently, he is
remembered fondly despite his absence. The audience takes to him avidly. He remains
a stylist with a unique viewpoint and an entertainer who gives his songs unusual musical twists. Mathis has come armed with new tunes which advances his theory that his style
of singing is as applicable today as when he first played the Blue Angel in 1956. In those
days, he was crossing new vocal frontiers, painting the tunes with bright and highly unusual colorations. Very much of what Mathis did in that period is still valid today.
During his more modern selections, which seem more capable of taking wider range of
colors, his musical palette is in order. From the start, he seemed to put a different
dazzle on the new tunes. He reprised the old hits such as "Maria" and his finale, the
medley from MAN OF LA MANCHA. With his debut at the Waldorf-Astoria,
Mathis impresses anew as likely box office sales in the Empire Room orbit.
VARIETY / February 11, 1970
Latin Casino, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Johnny Mathis has made appearances here with revue-type productions, sometimes with
a score of young supporting singers and dancers. He comes alone this trip and has no difficulty whatever sustaining interest in his recital for a full 65 minutes. Professionalism
is evident throughout in the well-rehearsed backing by the augmented-with-strings house
band and careful lighting cues. Mathis tries new material, but the concert is laced with
recognizable hits most of which bear his trademark. Although Mathis could get by on
capsule medleys of his many record smashes, the songs are varied in treatment ranging
from zesty "Day In, Day Out" to full-length reprise of "Let's Misbehave," a rollicking
"Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" and the surefire ballad "Didn't We." Segment
comprising such Mathis matters as "It's Not For Me To Say," "A Certain Smile,"
"Chances Are," etc., seems to make for a good finish, and is wildly acclaimed; but the
star tops this off with another 12 minutes of Broadway fare - "Maria" from WESTSIDE
STORY and three lilts from MAN OF LA MANCHA, all reverently received.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER / June 30, 1972
The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles
The Greek Theatre kicked off its 1972 season with a beautiful evening of music starring Johnny Mathis and Michel Legrand. Mathis was the headliner and there is no doubt that he is an institution. His voice is like no other, his technique is masterful, and sitting out under the stars listening to him is a treat. He blended old and new material and his audience rewarded him with a standing ovation. The second half of the show was pure Mathis, and he offered an interesting selection of material, with songs like "The Morning Of My Life," "Summer Me, Winter Me," "And Her Mother Came Too," along with a great
medley of his hits and new material like "Baby I'm A Want You." Mathis has a unique presence on stage that is engaging and not distracting. He just stands there and opens his
mouth and beautiful sounds come out without relying on gimmicks. His best number was
and incredible rendition of "Maria." His last number, an effective finale, was "If We Only Have Love."
DAILY VARIETY / July 27, 1973
Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles
Johnny Mathis and Henry Mancini have been working the concert-nitery circuits for several years together, and the combo continues to be dynamic, with Mancini's well-orchestrated sounds a marvelous prelude and lush backing to the Mathis romanticism.
Mathis, a true professional whose no-nonsense approach to his craft is responsible more
than anything else for his longevity, captivates with the simplicity of his program - a
collection of mostly soft ballads sung beautifully by a voice that improves with age. As
always, there is almost no talk, not very much movement except for a stroll now and then,
hand in pocket, from one end of the stage to the other. And yet, without any milking or
begging, he is awarded, as is customary at his performances, with a spontaneous standing
ovation at conclusion. Program is updated from time to time, but without ever breaking the formula, and also holding onto the trademark hits medley, rhythmic "I Got Love,"
powerful "Maria" and closing "If We Only Have Love," best version of the Jacques Brel
piece ever heard. "It's A Beautiful Evening" is a charming opener in the outdoor stadium.
Versions of others' hits are usually better than the originals - such as "And I Love Her So," "Killing Me Softly With Her Song," "I Was Born In Love With You."
DAILY VARIETY / March 6, 1974
Beverly Hilton, Los Angeles
Las Vegas came to Beverly Hills sans frills, sans gaucheness. It came in the form of Johnny
Mathis. He's one of a half-a-dozen musical performers who can, and does demand the special attention of an audience with a respect for the contemporary song. Mathis, who is
nothing short of magnificent, was a wise choice as an opener for the Hilton's International Ballroom. Mathis has never strayed from the level of excellence that marks his club and
concert dates, and this current outing is no exception. The familiar rich, velvet voice is used in a stunning, well-arranged and charted program of love songs that creates an atmosphere of intimacy even in a room as large as this. His following is enormous, and audience enthusiasm for his artistry results in deserved repeated standing ovations. There
is little chatter and much solid music, with "Pieces Of Dreams" and "Over The Weekend"
standing out as major achievements. Mathis has a feel for jazz, blues, up-tempo and ballads. Judging by his performance at the new, elegant Hilton room, Johnny Mathis is
the best popular singer in America today.
DAILY VARIETY / March 3, 1976
Shubert Theatre, Los Angeles
Johnny Mathis' return for a frame to local boards gives a much-needed boost to the L. A. line-up. His impeccable program and unspotted professionalism has kept him in the ranks of the finest of the contemporary concert performers. Mathis on stage with the orchestra is
polished in both looks and stylings. Mathis is a master of pop music, able to get more sensitivity out of the same material then many of his peers. His voice is strong and versatile, his arrangements excellent and his program carefully calculated to showcase him well, this
outing combining some new material with his standards. While his first-act appearances
include "Life Is A Song Worth Singing/Stone In Love With You," "We've Only Just Begun," etc. - he takes on more serious business in the second half, excelling with delicate deliveries of "Pieces Of Dreams," "I Was Born In Love With You," "Summer Me, Winter Me," "99 Miles From L.A." and his expected and superb WESTSIDE STORY medley.
Daringly enough, Mathis eliminated completely his hits medley. Gone too is his "If We
Only Have Love" as his bowoff, substituting an equally strong "What I Did For Love."
MELODY MAKER / May 21, 1977
London Palladium, England
The enduring qualities that enable some artists to withstand the temporary vicissitudes
of fashion were well demonstrated by Johnny Mathis at the London Palladium last
Thursday where he was winding up a "full house" fortnight's season. Only last year,
a 28-date tour by Mathis topped the 250,000 pounds mark. This fact, and his current Palladium success, testify to his sustained pulling power. The qualities that make Mathis much more acceptable than many middle-of-the-road performers may be summarised in
two words: poise and understatement. Doubless Mathis has mellowed with the years, but he has not lost his superior way with a song. He still flexes his voice with the ease with which he once flexed his muscles as a college athlete. He uses his lithe physique, too, to commanding effect to emphasise the lyrical and rhythmical motifs of a song. But always,
it must be stressed, with commendable taste and understatement. He covered a wide
repertoire, ranging from Stevie Wonder to Bernstein. Inevitably, he included his No. 1
Christmas single, "When A Child Is Born." But for me the uptempo numbers were the
most stimulating. Praise, too, for the musical direction/pianist Jim Barnett and the brilliant guitaristry of Gil Reigers.