John Russell Mann (August 30, 1928 – June 18, 2014) was an American arranger, composer, conductor, entertainer, and recording artist. He is amongst the giants of easy listening music.
John was born in Baltimore, where his father, Elsworth, was a building superintendent. His mother, Lillian, his primary musical influence, taught piano and voice. After high school, Mr. Mann served in the Army during the Korean War, playing trombonein the Army Field Band.
After mustering out he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as an arranger and music director for movie studios. In 1956, he was choral director for a short-lived variety show, “NBC Comedy Hour,” that led to the creation of the Johnny Mann Singers and signed a recording contract with the Liberty label They proceeded to dominate the airwaves with their trademark stylish, skilfully realised and undemanding blend of smooth voices and gentle melody. They were involved in several classic rock 'n' roll and rockabilly recording sessions for Johnny Burnette (including "God, Country and My Baby"), The Crickets and several 1957–1958 sessions with Eddie Cochran, who was also signed to Liberty Records in Hollywood.
Mann was credited as "Johnnie Mann" in some of his earlier works. The '60s saw the Mann Singers host the TV series Stand Up and Cheer, which ran for a total of three years (the group was a clean-cut bunch, wearing white pants and skirts, red V-neck sweaters, and white turtlenecks, the complete opposite of the burgeoning hippie/psychedelic rock movement that was sweeping the country). Handsome and exuberant and described as ‘looking like an airline pilot and acting like he¹s flying just as high’, Johnny Mann worked as musical director on The Danny Kaye Show and was the musical director for the 1967-69 ABC-TV late night talk show, The Joey Bishop Show.
The Johnny Mann Singers' instrumental "Cinnamint Shuffle (Mexican Shuffle)" hit the US Pop chart in 1966. Their next single, a cover version of "Up, Up and Away", became the hit version of the song on the UK Singles Chart, over taking the US hit version by The 5th Dimension. The version also won a Grammy Award in 1968 in the Best Performance by a Choir of Seven or More Persons category. In total, Mann was nominated for five Grammys, two of which he won.
During this time, Mann and his Singers began issuing albums, such as Invisible Tears, We Can Fly! Up-Up and Away, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. In addition to the Johnny Mann Singers, the leader/singer served as musical director for the original Alvin & the Chipmunks TV series, supplying the voice of the character Theodore. As bandleader with the Johnny Mann Singers, he and the group recorded approximately 40 albums.
He has composed, arranged, and produced an infinite number of radio and TV commercials/jingles, the most famous being the "Sounds of the City" jingle for KSFO in San Francisco, California. He hosted the TV series titled Stand Up and Cheer (1971–1974), where his groups most notable alumna was Vicki Lawrence. Mann and has worked with the likes of George Gobel, Johnny Mathis, Nat "King" Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Julie London, and Steve Allen, in addition to serving as Danny Kaye's conductor on an extended tour.
Incredibly patriotic, Mann has been the recipient of countless awards from Veterans groups, and performed at the White House two times for then-president Richard Nixon. Mann also hosted celebrity golf tournaments and often serves as a speaker for local charity fundraisers in his hometown of Palm Springs.
In 2010, Mann was awarded an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Anderson University in Anderson, SC. In April 2014 at the age of 85, he was a guest conductor of The South Carolina School of the Arts, at Anderson University's spring gala where he led the university choir in performing the Johnny Mann Singers arrangement of "Up, Up and Away". At the song's conclusion, the audience of about 1,000 stood in Mann's honour.
On June 18, 2014, Johnny Mann died of heart failure at age 85 at his home in Anderson, South Carolina.
(Compiled from Wikipedia & All Music)