Only a select handful of active musicians can rival the legendary vocalist Johnny Mathis. With the release of his debut single, Wonderful Wonderful, he made a significant impression on the music industry. Similar to that, he has sold more than 180 million records globally since his debut!
For the singer of A Certain Smile, who was a vocal supporter of gay and civil rights in the 1960s, music, and activism went hand in hand. The purpose of this article is to introduce Mathis while analyzing his preferences and viewpoints on marriage using quotes from earlier interviews. The musician also discusses his romance with a former love interest who passed away ten years ago.
The Singer Journey & Coming Out Story of Johnny Mathis
One thing is certain: throughout all of Mathis’ relationships with former loves, music has arguably been the only constant in his life. On September 30, 1935, in Gilmer, Texas, John Royce Mathis was born. He was the fourth of the Mathis family’s seven children. His father, Texas-based independent artist Clem Smith, inspired him to pursue music as a career.
When he was 13 years old, an instructor from the Bay Area named Connie Cox offered to educate him in exchange for his father doing odd things for her. In many ways, Mathis is continuing his father’s musical legacy. The native Texan once replied when asked about the effect of his father:
“I just want to thank my dad. He was my closest friend, and I sing today because of how much I adored him. He was a very talented singer. I took his lead, and he was a fantastic teacher.”
After enrolling in San Francisco State College to obtain a degree in education, the songwriter turned his attention back to his true passion, music. His path to the music business was made easy by a brief encounter with Helen Naga, the co-founder of the then-popular Blackhawk. Following rejection from the top record labels in the business, the Chances Are performer released Wonderful, Wonderful in 1957 through Columbia Records.
In the end, the song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. He had a long list of accomplishments under his belt by the time the George Washington High School alum came out as gay in 1982, including Chances Are and It’s Not For Me To Say.
When the American artist came out, the same Southerners who had criticized him for his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s also threatened to kill him. In 2014, he spoke with British Tabloid Express and went into further detail about the subject. He declared,
“It wasn’t popular with everyone in the Southern states. Although I was not in any real danger, it might be challenging to overcome when you’re young. I’m no longer bothered by it at all.”
Johnny Mathis wed his spouse in a grand ceremony?
Every time he takes the stage, the singer captures the audience’s attention with his soulful vocal skills. Naturally, his admirers would presume that he is the same gregarious individual outside of it. Nothing could, however, be further from the truth. The 85-year-old has actually been a recluse his entire life. Think about Mathi’s hesitation to conduct random interviews, for example.
The Gina hitmaker claimed in a 2017 Express interview that fame forces him to give up a lot, but he chose not to give up his privacy, offering a rare glimpse into why he doesn’t flaunt his love life. Records indicate that the songwriter only has one public relationship. He had an on-again, off-again romance with Ronettes vocalist Estelle Bennett before coming out as gay in the 1970s.
Sadly, the Texas native’s ex-partner passed away in 2009. As his stay on Earth draws to a close, Mathis must be bothered by the thought that he couldn’t do right by his former partner(s) by marrying them in a grand ceremony.
The artist, on the other hand, is content with his single status. In 2014, he revealed to the Guardian:
“I’ve never been married, and I don’t feel guilty about never having children. There are always a lot of people around because I come from a big city. Despite being really content, I’ve never wed.”
But he also seems to relish being the hip uncle to his 15 nephews and nieces.
In the same Guardian interview, the lead singer of A Certain Smile alleged:
“Because I’ve raised the kids of my sisters and brothers, I would have made a fantastic father.”
I have around 15–16 brilliant, attractive nieces and nephews who are all in school.”
The Singer’s Substance Abuse
He gained a drug addiction as a result of his critics and the strain of singing nonstop. He was frequently referred to as a romantic singer. The legendary African-American vocalist sought help from the controversial Dr. Marx Jacobson after experiencing voice strain.
Everything that followed would launch him into a life of drug use and alcohol consumption. He recalled his meeting with Dr. Marx in the same 2014 Express interview, adding,
“I saw him because I had laryngitis while performing five shows each night at the Copacabana in New York. The Kennedys and everyone on Broadway went to him. He gave me vitamin injections, which nicely restored my voice but left me with a narcotic addiction. Even though it was extremely upsetting, I had to stop.”
But after learning about his drinking issues at reception, Nancy Reagen, a former First Lady of the United States, persuaded him to enroll in a recovery clinic. All we can do is applaud Johnny Mathis for defying social expectations and living his best life, from making a living out of his passion to coming out as homosexual!