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“Country” Johnny Mathis Dead at 80

Courtesy PLA Media

“Country” Johnny Mathis, a singer and songwriter credited with penning more than 400 tunes over the course of his 60-plus-year career, died yesterday (Sept. 27) in Nashville. He was 80.

While Johnny shared his name with another performer — legendary pop crooner Johnny Mathis — he enjoyed a remarkable career in his own right. He got his start in 1949, when he signed to the StarTalent label, and in subsequent decades he recorded for Chess, Columbia and Mercury, among other labels.

In 1953, as part of the duo Jimmy and Johnny, he scored a Top 10 hit with ‘If You Don’t Somebody Else Will.’ A decade later, he nabbed his highest-charting solo single, ‘Please Talk to My Heart,’ which reached the Top 15.

Over the years, numerous big-name artists have recorded Johnny’s songs, including George Jones, Charley Pride, Johnny Paycheck, Tammy Wynette and even Elvis Costello.

Johnny had been in poor health following a 1999 stroke, and prior to that, he’d spent the last few decades singing gospel music and focusing on his family. He’s survived by four children and Jeannie Mathis, his wife of 43 years.

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