Mathis got his start as a recording artist in 1949 with the StarTalent label, later recording for Chess, Columbia, Mercury, Decca and more. As part of the duo Jimmy and Johnny, he scored a Top 10 in 1953 with “If You Don’t Somebody Else Will.” His highest charting solo effort, “Please Talk To My Heart” (United Artists), reached the Top 15 in 1963. He also appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville Now, and was a regular performer on the Louisiana Hayride through the ‘50s.
As a songwriter, Mathis’ compositions were recorded by George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Paycheck, Charlie Pride, Johnny Horton, Jimmy Dean, Freddy Fender, Elvis Costello, and many more. More recently, Jim Lauderdale and Brad Davis have recorded his songs. Mathis turned to gospel music in the ‘70s, where he focused his efforts for the next two decades. In 1999, he suffered a stroke that left him incapacitated.
He is survived by his wife Jeannie, daughter Sherie Craver, sons John Jr., Bill and James and numerous grandchildren.
Services will be conducted by Lawrence Brothers Funeral Home of Chapel Hill, TN. Visitation will be Thurs., Sept. 29, 4:00 – 8:30 p.m. at Lawrence Funeral Home. The funeral will be at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30, also at Lawrence Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Beechwood Cemetery, Cornersville, TN.