Johnny Mathis With Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass – September 11, 1965 – Hollywood Bowl – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Much as we’d like to think that when The Beatles arrived on the scene, bringing the rest of the British Invasion with them, Pop crooners; those artists whose style of romantic ballads would be later classified as Easy Listening, would begin to fade from the scene – they would stop having records in the top-40 and spend the remainder of their careers singing in Las Vegas.
But as much as the Youth Market was changing quickly, owing to the sheer size of the baby boom generation, the tried-and-true Traditional Pop market, whose demographic was somewhere between their late 20s though early 50’s, were still a substantial entity, and many radio stations like KMPC were powerhouse outlets which appealed to them.
Johnny Mathis was one of those artists who transitioned over from Jazz/Pop to traditional Pop and ballads, including a lot of showtunes and standards, making a household name for himself and becoming an icon because of it.
Mathis had broad appeal and was featured prominently on Late Night TV (Johnny Carson), numerous variety programs of the time and would continue to ring up handsome figures in album sales well into the 80s and 90s.
So as much as you’d like to think the world abruptly changed in the direction of John, Paul, George and Ringo, there was still a substantial fan base for someone of Johnny Mathis’ appeal and unique talents.
This concert, which also features Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, was hosted by the Stereo Store in the San Fernando Valley, House Of Sight And Sound and was emceed by the KMPC disc jockeys.
Bear in mind, this concert is fifty-three years old and was presented at a time when Traditional Pop still had popularity with the Top-40 crowd as was evidenced by Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, which was enjoying top-10 status with most Rock Stations around the country in 1965.
The other thing – which is something you definitely would not find now is the humor of Bill Dana, who introduces The Tijuana Brass. Dana, who was a popular comedian as well as writer, established a career for himself in the character of José Jimenez, a somewhat stereotyped Bolivian who was very popular in the late 1950s/early 1960s, but who would be considered today as downright offensive. Times change – and so does music.
Here’s a reminder that The Hollywood Bowl was a showcase for a wide spectrum of Artists throughout the years – and this was what Pop Music was about in the early 1960s.
As a postscript: This concert was never thought to have existed – it is offered here for the very first time since it was first recorded in 1965. It was never broadcast and was only used as a reference recording for the Hollywood Bowl, who had ordered it destroyed around 1968. So now you know.