"When you're making out, which do you prefer: Sinatra or Mathis?" This great bit of proto-Tarantino male-centric dialogue from the comedy-drama Diner dramatizes the ubiquity of Mathis in the hearts of young teens during the early rock era. Never mind that the character played by Mickey Rourke answers "Elvis." The one posing the question was a Mathis man, and so were millions of others. Rather than belting out tunes in the accepted pop style, the silken-voiced, Texas-born crooner conjured intimacy and vulnerability with his otherworldly quaver. His love ballads were the perfect soundtrack to swearing romantic allegiance until the twelfth of never.
It's a credit to the man's versatility and pop smarts that he's managed to bridge the gap from "King of Necking Music" through chart-topping duets in the '80s to the serious concert draw he remains today. Then again, it takes some kind of magic to sell enough LPs for enshrinement in the Guinness Book of World Records. He trails only Elvis and Old Blue Eyes in number of albums sold. As for whether he'll play all of his biggest hits when he hits DPAC? It's not for me to say. But with Johnny Mathis, chances are ... he will. —David Klein