Mercer, Johnny

Mercer, Johnny

(John Herndon Mercer) (mûr`sər), 1909–76, American lyricist and songwriter, b. Savannah, Ga. Mercer, who was one of American popular music's most accomplished wordsmiths, began writing songs as a teenager; in 1929 he moved to New York City, where he worked as an actor and a singer. In 1933 he had his first hit, "Lazybones," with music by Hoagy CarmichaelCarmichael, Hoagy
(Hoagland Howard Carmichael), 1899–1981, American songwriter, pianist, and singer, b. Bloomington, Ind. While still a student at Indiana Univ. he was influenced by a number of jazz musicians. Several of his jazz tunes, e.g.
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. Two years later he moved to Hollywood, where he wrote lyrics for numerous musicals and other movies. During his long career Mercer collaborated with many composers, including Harold ArlenArlen, Harold
, 1905–86, American jazz and popular composer, b. Buffalo, N.Y., as Hyman Arluck. From the age of seven Arlen sang in the synagogue where his father was cantor, at 15 he left school to play jazz piano, and at 16 he left home.
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, Harry Warren, Jimmy McHugh, Jerome KernKern, Jerome
, 1885–1945, American composer of musicals, b. New York City. After studying in New Jersey and New York he studied composition in Germany and England. His first success was the operetta The Red Petticoat (1912).
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, Vincent YoumansYoumans, Vincent,
1898–1946, American composer, b. New York City. He first began composing while in the navy during World War I. His first musical, Two Little Girls in Blue, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, opened (1921) on Broadway.
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, and Marvin Hamlisch, writing the words for such classics as "Hooray for Hollywood" (1937), "Blues in the Night" (1941), "Skylark" (1942), "One for My Baby" (1943), and "Come Rain or Come Shine" (1946). He was nominated for 18 best-song Oscars and won four times, including for "Moon River" in 1961 and "Days of Wine and Roses" in 1962, both with music by Henry Mancini. Mercer cofounded (1942) Capitol Records.


See biographies by P. Furia (2003) and G. Lees (2004); R. Kimball, B. Day, M. Kreuger, and E. Davis, ed., The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer (2009).

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Mercer, (John H.) Johnny

(1909–1976) lyricist, composer; born in Savannah, Ga. He collaborated with the great songwriters of his day on such popular hits as "That Old Black Magic" (1942), "Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive" (1944), "Come Rain or Come Shine" (1946), and "Moon River" (1961). In 1942 he was a founder and first president of Capitol Records. He wrote some 1,500 songs for films and Broadway musicals, including the hit musical L'il Abner (1956).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
He was a songwriter whose works were popularized by Mabel Mercer, Johnny Mathis, Eartha Kitt, and many more.