Ask Cool Daddy & Cool Daddy
Dear Cool Daddy: Just when I thought I’d gotten my head around the fact that there were 2 Ray Charles’s…now I find out there were 2 Johnny Mathis’s? Can you straighten this out for me? …from Jojo in Walla Walla WA
Dear Jojo: Well, it certainly is unusual for 2 celebrities to be active at the same time with the same name…of course, there was and are 2 Vanessa Williams’s…the Miss America, middle initial L. ….and the Melrose Place actress, middle initial A. In 2009, the Boston Red Sox had 2 pitchers named Ramon Ramirez. And when Anna Nicole Smith was all in the news, there were 2 Howard Sterns…now, mercifully, we’re back to just the one.
But there were indeed 2 of each of the entertainers you mentioned, and oddly enough, the lesser known one of each pair…and as it turns out, by sheer coincidence, the Caucasian one…was actually in show business first. The “white” Ray Charles, born Charles Raymond Offenberg, was a member of the singing group the Satisfiers when they hooked up with Perry Como in the early 1940s, and he went on to serve as Como’s long-time musical director, penning such tunes as “Letters, We Get Letters” and “The Nifty Fifty United States.” The Ray Charles Singers appear on many Como recordings, and were stars in their own right too, with the oddly phrased “Love Me With All of Your Heart” (here) reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and #1 on the Adult Comtemporary in late 1964. (I used to think, what the heck, Ray Charles Robinson was so versatile, why couldn’t’ve he come up with that schmaltzy sound? But he didn’t.)
The group also sang on countless commercials, one of the more famous being the “Take Me Along” jingle (here) for United Airlines in 1968. And believe it or not, you’ve actually heard “the other Ray Charles,” as he called himself, sing zillions of times…with Julia Rinker Miller, he is the other half of the duo singing the theme song to Three’s Company. And of the 4 today, he is the only one still living, having turned 93 this past September.
Oddly enough, John Royce Mathis died this September at age 77. He was a performer with the Louisiana Hayride starting in 1951, on radio and TV, and had recording success as half of Jimmy and Johnny…then as Country Johnny Mathis, having by this time been overshadowed in the mainstream pop world by the other Johnny Mathis. He is said to have written over 500 songs, and was active in gospel music until his death.
And I guess while I’m thinking of it, honorable mention to Lee May and Lee Maye, nez pah?
shameless plugs and shameless plugs…
Deep Fried Hoods Cups Daily Blog: https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com/
Other Daily Blog at http://stolf.wordpress.com (the legendary Stolf’s Blog)
Updated Resume at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com/p/resume.html
Audio samples at http://stolfspots.podbean.com