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Singer and songwriter Johnny Mercer picture(s)/pic(s), wallpaper and photo gallery, albums covers pictures.
Birth name: John Herndon Mercer.
Born: November 18, 1909 Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
Died: June 25, 1976

Johnny Mercer biography (bio):
John Herndon "Johnny" Mercer was a popular American songwriter and singer. As a songwriter, he worked mainly as a lyricist but wrote his own music. He was also a popular singer who recorded his own songs as well as songs written by others. From the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s, many of the songs he wrote and performed were among the most popular hits. He wrote the lyrics to more than 1000 songs, including songs for movies and Broadway shows and received nineteen Academy Award nominations. He also was a cofounder of Capitol Records.

Born in Savannah, Georgia, Mercer liked music as a small child. His aunt told him he was humming music when he was six-months old. He never had formal musical training but he listened to all the music he could and by the time he was 11 or 12 he had memorized almost all of the songs he had heard. He once asked his brother who the best songwriters were, and his brother said Irving Berlin, among the best of Tin Pan Alley.

Starting out:

Moon River:
Mercer moved to New York in 1928, when he was 19. His first few jobs were as an actor but he soon gravitated toward singing and lyric writing. His first lyric appeared in a musical revue in 1930. Later, after appearing in two motion pictures, he quit acting altogether to concentrate on writing and performing songs exclusively.
This was the golden age of the sophisticated popular song, like those of Cole Porter. Songs were put into revues without much regard for integrating the song into the plot. During the 1930s there was a shift in musical theatre from musical revues to musicals that used the song to further the plot. There was less of a demand for the pure stand-alone song. In the early 1930s, when Mercer was offered a job in Hollywood to write songs and act in low-budget musicals for RKO, he took it.

Hollywood years:
It was only when Mercer moved to Hollywood in 1935 that his career was assured. His first big song "I'm an Old Cow Hand" was used by Bing Crosby in a film, and from there his demand as a lyricist took off. He found himself writing more and performing less.
In 1941 Mercer met an ideal musical collaborator in the form of Harold Arlen whose compositions mixed with jazz and blues provided Mercer's sophisticated, slangy lyrics a perfect musical vehicle. Now his lyrics began to display the combination of sophisticated wit and southern regional vernacular that characterize some of his best songs. Their first hit was "Blues in the Night" (1941). They went on to compose "That Old Black Magic" (1942), "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" (1941), "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" (1944), and "Come Rain Or Come Shine" (1946) among others.
In Hollywood he was able to collaborate with a remarkable number of composers, including Richard Whiting, Harry Warren, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Jimmy Van Heusen, Henry Mancini, Dorothy Fields, and Hoagy Carmichael. He was adaptable in his style, listening carefully and absorbing a tune and then transforming it into his own style. He said he preferred to have the music first, taking it home and working on it. He claimed composers had no problem with this method as long as he came back with the lyrics.
Mercer cofounded Capitol Records in Hollywood in 1942 along with businessman Buddy DeSylva and record store owner Glen Wallichs.
After the death of his friend and collaborator, Paul Whiting, he began working with Harry Warren, one of the best composers in the film business. Starting in the late 1930s, Mercer also had an immensely productive collaborative relationship with Harold Arlen.

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 write English lyrics to foreign songs, the most famous example being "Autumn Leaves," based on the French "Les Feuilles Mortes."
Occasionally, Mercer wrote both music and lyrics. "Something's Gotta Give" is probably the best-known song in this category.
Mercer wrote for some MGM films, which include Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) and Merry Andrew (1958). He wrote the lyrics to "Moon River" for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. (Henry Mancini wrote the music.) In 1969, Mercer helped publishers Abe Olman and Howie Richmond found the National Academy of Popular Music's Songwriters Hall of Fame.
A good indication of the high esteem in which Mercer was held can be seen in the fact 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. 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. 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.

Broadway credits:
Mercer wrote the lyrics for songs heard in the revues Garrick Gaieties (1930) and Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1939 and for the musicals St. Louis Woman (1946), Top Banana (musical) (1951), Li'l Abner (1956), Saratoga (1959), and Foxy (1964).

Southern roots:
Born in the South, Mercer grew up listening to records of Tin Pan Alley songs but also to so-called "race" records, marketed to blacks. His later songs merged his southern roots with his urban knowledge of sophisticated songwriters. It was his southern roots that enable him to be one of the few lyricists able to skillfully write lyrics set to the jazz melodies of composers such as Hoagy Carmichael. For years Mercer had to ignore those roots to fit the requirements of Tin Pan Alley standard terms. "Moon River", with its remarkable phrase "my huckleberry friend" would never have been accepted in the Tin Pan Alley years.

Singing style:
Well-regarded also as a singer, with a folksy singing quality, he was a natural for his own songs such as "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive", "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe", "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)", and "Lazybones." He was considered a first-rate performer of his own work.
It has been said that he penned "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)", one of the great torch laments of all times, on a napkin while sitting at the bar at P. J. Clarke's when Tommy Joyce was the bartender. The next day he called Tommy to apologize for the line "So, set 'em up, Joe," "I couldn't get your name to rhyme." Mercer, like Cole Porter before him, was more interested in the words than the emotion in lyric. This may be why "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" was sung more effectively by him than other singers who often turned it into a tear-jerker.
ATCO Records issued 'Two Of A Kind' in 1961, a duet album by Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer with Billy May and his Orchestra, produced by Ahmet Ertegn. In 1974, Mercer recorded two albums of his songs in London, with the Pete Moore Orchestra, and with the Harry Roche Constellation.

Posthumous success:
In his last year, Mercer became extremely fond of pop singer Barry Manilow, in part because Manilow's first hit record was of a song titled "Mandy," which was also the name of Mercer's daughter Amanda. After Mercer's death, his widow, Ginger Mehan Mercer, arranged to give some unfinished lyrics he had written to Manilow to possibly develop into complete songs. 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.
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