Johnnie would have turned 85 years old today, if he was still alive. Unfortunately, this very talented singer died in 1990, but he left behind an awesome legacy of music, and ALL of it is available!

Described by various sources as the link between Sinatra and Presley, I consider Johnnie’s music to be almost a category of its own. His unique way of merging the well-known crooning style of Sinatra, Dick Haymes and others, he also added a lot of things that would be regarded as substantial elements when rock n’ roll arrived. Johnnie used his voice in a new way, singing very rhythmically and fusing the black feeling of the blues into a primarily new style, adding bits of country, cabaret and rhythm & blues along the way and the result was something never heard before.

Adding to all this, he also had a stage personality that was new in the early 50’s. Johnnie swung his hips, tore at his hair, flung himself on the piano, danced with the microphone stand and did things vocally that was creating a sensation.

Johnnies first record came out 1951, his last was recorded in 1969. The German record company Bear Family has released his entire output on record. They come in two big boxes of 5 CDs, each with a big hard cover book. More than 200 songs recorded over almost 20 years, the music paints a portrait of a singer whose talent is too little appreciated, but none the less shows what a fabulous singer Johnnie was. You get standards, blues songs, a little country, some early rock ‘n roll, some very soulful stuff he made in the mid-to-late 60’s, his duets with Doris Day, Frankie Laine, Timi Yuro and you really owe it to yourself to check this guy out! Also included are two live albums, and the songs from his 1954 movie “There’s no business like show business”, in which he costarred with Ethel Merman, Donald O’Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, Dan Dailey and Marilyn Monroe.

Although he made no records after 1969, he still toured the world constantly and he remained a popular and very dynamic entertainer up to the very end. He was plagued by ill-health in his later years, and finally died of liver failure in February 1990 at the age of 63.

My house will be filled with the great sound of Johnnies voice all day today, in my personal celebration of what would have been his 85th birthday!