Johnny Mercer: Our Huckleberry Friend

- *Simpkins, Daphne
Love the old songs like "Moon River," "Laura," and "Autumn Leaves?" Chances are you have hummed along to "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" or tapped your foot to "Blues in the Night." Savannah-born song writer Johnny Mercer wrote those songs and about 1,500 more.

With little musical training, Mercer moved at age 19 from Georgia to New York, where he lived on oatmeal while learning to write music. He wrote alone often but over time co-authored songs with others, including Harold Arlen and Henry Mancini.

Life events inspired his songwriting. During his most prolific years, Mercer was also stressfully in love with singer Judy Garland while he was married to his wife Ginger. Many of Mercer’s most poignant love songs were written with Judy Garland in mind: "Come Rain or Come Shine," "That Old Black Magic," "Something’s Gotta Give," "One for My Baby," and "One More for the Road."

In addition to creating music, Mercer co-founded Capitol Records. There, he helped launch the careers of The King Cole Trio, Jo Stafford, and Peggy Lee, and he helped relaunch the stalled career of Frank Sinatra.

Mercer’s body of work is inextricable from American culture, storytelling, moviemaking, and the history of the South. He was nominated for 19 Oscars and won four times. Mercer died in California at the age of 66 from an inoperable brain tumor.

After Johnny died, his widow Ginger forbade that the last love-sick torch song most associated with his unrequited love for Judy Garland not be included in any music anthology that celebrated his life's work. That’s why the song is hard to find.

Want to know that song Johnny wrote for Judy Garland? Come find out during this talk on "Johnny Mercer: Our Huckleberry Friend."

To book this talk, contact Daphne Simpkins:
Phone: 334.396.8618
Email: [email protected]

*Daphne is a dementia-friendly presenter and welcomes the opportunity to serve all age groups, including those with memory or dementia issues.