Johnny Mathis’ iconic Hollywood mansion was destroyed in a devastating fire on Monday evening. Although the legendary singer was not injured, as he was not at home, he suffered an incredible loss of personal property — and the only house he ever owned.
As reported by TMZ, the blaze started while Mathis was on a flight from Cleveland to Los Angeles. When he arrived at LAX, he was told that his house was on fire.
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) November 3, 2015
Although he “was thinking a little fire,” the 80-year-old singer eventually learned his mansion was destroyed.
Mathis said he is thankful that nobody was injured. However, as reported by the New York Daily News, the Hollywood mansion was “the only house [he] ever had.”
A native of Gilmer, Texas, Johnny Mathis showed an early talent for singing and playing music. Although he started out singing with the church choir, his parents recognized and fostered his budding talent.
At the age of eight, Mathis’ father bought him his first piano and taught him how to play “My Blue Heaven.” Johnny’s parents also arranged for a vocal coach, who helped Johnny develop his rich voice and soulful style.
In addition to being a gifted musician, Mathis was an accomplished athlete. In the early 1950s, he attended San Francisco State University, where he majored in Physical Education.
While attending college, Mathis set a high jump record, which made him a strong contender for the Olympic team. However, he ultimately chose to pursue a career in music instead.
In his spare time, Johnny Mathis sang with a Jazz band — which routinely performed at the Black Hawk nightclub.
As reported by Biography, the club’s owner was impressed with the young man’s singing and invited a friend — who happened to be an executive with Columbia Records — to hear him sing. The executive was equally impressed with Mathis’ undeniable talent, and offered him a contact on the spot.
At the age of 19, Johnny signed a contract with Columbia Records and recorded his first album — which was titled Johnny Mathis: A New Sound in Popular Song. Although his “jazz-inspired” first album was a moderate success, Mathis’ second album, Wonderful Wonderful, showcased his talent for singing romantic ballads.
Throughout his career, Mathis had performed numerous iconic hits, including “Chances Are” and “Misty.” He recorded more than 71 studio albums and 100 singles.
Johnny has also received numerous honors for his work, including three Grammy Hall of Fame Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
At the age of 80, Mathis still regularly tours the United States. The beloved singer was returning home from a performance in Cleveland, Ohio, when his house was destroyed in the fire.
— Leanne Suter (@ABC7Leanne) November 3, 2015
Unfortunately, there are conflicting reports as to what sparked the devastating fire. A firefighter at the scene said the blaze started outside the home. However, a representative with the Los Angeles Fire Department said it likely originated “in a room filled with aquarium equipment.”
Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Dean Zipperman said he and his colleagues managed to spare some of Mathis’ personal effects. However, the singer suffered an immense loss.
Despite losing the only house he ever owned, and a majority of his personal property, Johnny appeared to be optimistic. He said he is “OK” and he is very thankful “nobody got hurt.” Although he is upset that his house is gone, he said he “can always replace things.”
Johnny Mathis’ tour is scheduled to resume in Branson, Missouri, next week. However, it is unclear whether the show will be postponed.
[Photo by Larry Busacca / Getty Images]