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 like it.

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 stage.

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 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.