Family & Companions
Johnny Mercer is unique among the songwriters whose work makes up the so-called Great American Songbook of mid 20th century standards in a couple of ways. For one thing, in addition to the jazz and pop influences he shares with most of his peers, he also had a distinct blues feeling to many of his compositions, largely owing to his Southern upbringing. Additionally, he was one of the only pop songwriters of his generation to make the crossover to recording artist, earning a number of hits by singing his own material. John Herndon Mercer was born on November 19, 1909 in Savannah, Georgia. Growing up, he absorbed blues, jazz, and Tin Pan Alley tunes, all of which informed his budding musical sensibilities. At the age of 19, he made his way to New York City to pursue both singing and songwriting. He eventually decided to focus on lyrics, and got a job as a staff writer for a small publishing house. He worked with Yip Harburg on songs for the 1932 production of Americana. But it was Mercer's collaboration with Hoagy Carmichael on the 1933 song "Lazybones" that really earned him his entrée into the ranks of respected songwriters. In 1935 Mercer abandoned New York for Hollywood, where he began turning out tunes for musicals, including such immortal songs as "Too Marvelous For Words," "Hooray for Hollywood," and "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby." In the early '40s, Mercer teamed up with composer Harold Arlen, and the partnership produced some of both men's most widely beloved offerings, including the Frank Sinatra classics "Blues in the Night," "That Old Black Magic," and "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)." In 1942, Mercer made an equally titanic contribution to the business side of the music world by co-founding Capitol Records. But that didn't slow his songwriting output; the Mercer parade of hits continued through the '50s and '60s with the likes of "Something's Gotta Give," "Moon River," and "Summer Wind." The timelessness of Mercer's artistry was such that Paul McCartney was reportedly pursuing him for a collaboration not long before Mercer lost his life to cancer on June 25, 1976.
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Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Music (TV Mini-Series)
Found success in Hollywood for the first time by penning "I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)," sung by Bing Crosby in <i>Rhythm on the Range</i>.
Founded both Capitol Records and the far less iconic Cowboy Records.
Scored a No. 2 hit with his recording of "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive."