In 1955, Columbia A&R man George Avakian chanced upon a Texan teenager playing the nightclub circuit. Astounded at the luxuriant maturity of the voice, he wired an urgent telegram back to HQ. "Have found phenomenal 19-year-old boy", it read. "Send blank contracts". The youth in question? Johnny Mathis.
Since then, Mathis has shifted 180 million albums across five decades. Like his hero Nat King Cole, he's a romantic balladeer with a seductive touch, covering all bases from pop standards to jazz to Broadway tunes to traditional favourites.
Live at Indiana's Holiday Star Theatre in the early '80's, he celebrated 25 years in the top flight, aided by conductor James Ganduglia's 30-piece orchestra and a special appearance by Deniece Williams for the classic #1 duet, "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late". Also aired on this special evening: "Chances Are", West Side Story's "Maria", "Begin The Beguine", "The Last Time I Felt Like This" and a formidable version of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive". Truly unforgettable.