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Who Country Johnny Mathis
What Country Johnny Mathis, songwriter and recording artist, dies at age 80
When September 27, 2011
Where Nashville, TN

“Country” Johnny Mathis, a recording artist and songwriter whose compositions were recorded by notables including George Jones, George Hamilton IV, Ray Price and Charley Pride, died Tuesday on the eve of his 81st birthday of complications from pneumonia.

Not to be confused with the pop crooner Johnny Mathis, the Maude, Texas-born Mr. Mathis was a prolific songwriter who sometimes sold the rights of his songs in return for cash: He sold his writer’s share of “If You Don’t Somebody Else Will,” a Top 10 country hit in 1953 for Jimmy & Johnny, the duo of Mr. Mathis and Jimmy Lee Fautheree, for $15. On Mr. Mathis’ website, he claimed to have used that $15 on a bottle of vodka, some pinball games and a night’s stay at a YMCA.

Mr. Mathis recorded for labels including Chess, Columbia, Mercury, Decca, United Artists, Little Darlin’ and Hilltop. He appeared on the Louisiana Hayride, the Grand Ole Opry, TNN’s Nashville Now and numerous other programs. Country Music Hall of Famer Jones recorded two dozen of Mr. Mathis’ songs, including “Brown To Blue,” later recorded by Elvis Costello.

Mr. Mathis turned his back on the vodka-and-pinball life in 1964, when he wrote a song called “I’m Gonna Thank Jesus” and abandoned his country music career to focus on his religion. He sang gospel music in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, moving to Nashville in 1980 and staying in Tennessee until his death.

Mr. Mathis suffered a stroke in 1999 that left him incapacitated.

Visitation and funeral arrangements are being conducted by Lawrence Brothers Funeral Home of Chapel Hill, Tenn. Mr. Mathis is survived by wife Jeannie Mathis, daughter Sherie Craver and sons John, Jr., Bill and James, as well as by 11 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

Songs for Which Johnny Mathis was credited as being the writer or co-writer (from Hillbilly-Music.com archives):

  • You Can Tell The World
  • If I Could Keep You Off My Mind
  • Two Little Hearts
  • Please Talk To My Heart (w/Walt Breeland)
  • I'm Beginning To Remember (w/Jimmy Fautheree
  • If You DOn't Somebody Else Will (w/Jimmy Fautheree and Geraldine Hamilton)
  • A Love Gone Wrong (w/Virginia Franks)
  • No One Here But Me (w/Virginia Franks)
  • I'll Do It Everytime (w/Johnny Horton and Tillman Franks)
  • If You Should Come Back Today (w/Pete Howard)
  • Love Fever (w/Al Turner and E. Hanna)
  • A Big Old Heart Full Of Love
  • You're Not Play Love (w/Jimmy Lee and Stan Lewis)
  • What's In Our Heart (w/George Jones)
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    Contact Peter Cooper
    The Tennessean


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