Lyricist, composer and singer Johnny Mercer was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1909. He had hit songs with Bing Crosby in the late 1930s, with Jo Stafford ("Candy') and on his own, especially "Accentuate the Positive." On the radio he sang with Benny Goodman and had his own shows, including "Johnny Mercer's Music Shop." Greatly admired in the music industry both personally and for his intelligent, optimistic lyrics, he wrote or co-wrote over 1,100 songs, including "Blues in the Night," "That Old Black Magic," "One For My Baby, "Come Rain or Come Shine" (all with Harold Arlen); "Lazy Bones" and "Skylark" with Hoagy Carmichael; "I'm a Old Cowhand," "I Remember You," "P.S. I Love You," "Jeepers Creepers," "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," "When a Woman Loves a Man," "Too Marvelous for Words," and "Fools Rush In." He won Academy Awards for "The Atchison, Topeka and The Santa Fe" (1946, with Harry Warren), "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" (1951, with Hoagy Carmichael), "Moon River' (1961, with Henry Mancini) and "Days of Wine an Roses" (1962, with Mancini). As president and co-founder of Capitol Records, Mercer was instrumental in the early recording careers of such musicians as Peggy Lee and Nat King Cole. He died in Los Angeles in 1976.
Savannah born man-of-music Johnny Mercer is a recognized composer-lyricist, a vocalist with a very definite following, and a star-discoverer to boot. Mercer, winner of four Academy Awards for his "Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe", "In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening", "Moon River", and "Days Of Wine And Roses" lyrics, played a major role in bringing such singing personalities as Peggy Lee, Andy Russell, Jo Stafford, Margaret Whiting, and Nat Cole to the public.
This bard of Tin Pan Alley wrote his first song when only fifteen years of age, a ditty titled "Sister Susie Strut Your Stuff", and in the years since he's composed more than 1,500 songs, has had more than 750 published, and has scored hits with nearly 100.Among Mercer's most successful musical efforts are "Blues in the Night", "Dream", "Something's Gotta Give", "Black Magic", "Skylark", "Ac-cen-tchu-ate The Positive", "Laura", "Autumn Leaves", "One For My Baby", "And The Angels Sing", "Come Rain Or Come Shine", 'Fools Rush In", "Glow Worm", "I Remember You", "Tangerine", "Day In, Day Out", "Too Marvelous For Words", "Lazybones", and "Jeepers Creepers".
Formerly a vocalist with the Benny Goodman and Paul Whiteman orchestras, with a stint as a Wall Street runner served between engagements, Mercer has written lyrics for such celebrated tune makers as Jerome Kern, Harry Warren, Vernon Duke, Gene de Paul, Matty Malneck, Richard Whiting, and Harold Arlen. The Broadway musical "St. Louis Woman" is the result of an Arlen-Mercer collaboration; "Li'l Abner" with de Paul.
Mercer's writing methods vary. "Usually", he says, "a title or simple idea comes first, and then the rest of the words just seem to fall into place."
When he does both tune and lyrics, he writes a few words, pounding out the melody in his one-finger style, and then proceeds to the next batch of words, "It's all as easy," says Mercer, "as chopping up ten cords of wood per day!"
This good natured song writer has tried several times to get more than one finger working on the piano. He starts lessons every so often, but always returns to his one-finger method of playing.
When he gets away from music for a brief spell, Mercer likes to experiment with paints. His medium is water color, and what he does with it is good enough to make up a large part of the wall decor in his Hollywood home. He plays golf, though doesn't like to talk about his score. "Whatever the score," he says, "the game keeps me sun-tanned the year round."
Johnny Mercer and Ginger Meehan, a former dancer, were married in New York City in 1931. They have two children - Amanda and John Jeff.
from: JOHNNY MERCER "Festival of Hits" for Guitar
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