JOHNNY TILLOTSON’S artistic ability and energetic personality consistently delight audiences of all age groups. He was born in Jacksonville, Florida, but at nine years old he was given the responsibility of taking care of his grandmother in Palatka, Florida, some 50 miles away. He traveled back to Jacksonville to be with his parents each summer.
It was at this early age that he decided to be a singer and with the encouragement of his Mother and Grandmother, Johnny began to perform at local functions and on the radio. By the time he entered Palatka Senior High School he had quite a reputation as a talented singer throughout the state of Florida.
His first television appearance was as a guest on the "Toby Dowdy Show." Johnny’s performance produced a steady stream of fan mail and resulted in him becoming a regular on the country oriented show. When the "Toby Dowdy Show" went off the air, Johnny had the opportunity to do his own show “The Velda Show” starring Johnny Tillotson was a weekly show airing each Monday night at 7 pm.. He successfully juggled his weekly T.V. show and his studies at the University of Florida until graduation.
It was during these years that Johnny began writing songs. In 1957, a local D.J. submitted a tape of Johnny’s singing to the National Pet Milk Talent Contest. Johnny was chosen as one of the 6 national winners from this tape, which afforded him the opportunity to perform on WSM radio in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was to receive his biggest break. Miss Lee Rosenberg a Nashville music publisher, was so impressed with Johnny, she took his tape to Archie Bleyer. Archie was the owner of Cadence Records and the force behind much of the success of the Everly Brothers, Andy Williams, the Chordettes and many other artists, he was so impressed with Johnny that he signed him to Cadence Records.
While Johnny was finishing his studies at the University of Florida, (He graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism and Communications in 1959.) Archie recorded Johnny singing his own composition "Dreamy Eyes." This song went to the top of the charts in Florida, and many other parts of the country, which proved to Archie that Johnny had what it took to sell records. He invited Johnny to move to New York City immediately upon graduating from college. This was the start of a string of chart records, "Poetry In Motion," "It Keeps Right On A Hurtin’," "Without You," "Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On," and many more.
It was, "It Keeps Right On A Hurtin’," one of Johnny’s own compositions, which brought Johnny his first Grammy nomination along with the distinction of becoming one of the first cross-over artists. Johnny was a forerunner in bringing country music to the Pop market. This firmly established Johnny as a country-pop star. The song went on to be recorded by over 110 artists including Elvis Presley and it became a #1 selling country hit by Billy Joe Royal in the 1980’s.
With 18 chart records to his credit in the USA, Johnny moved on to M.G.M Records, where his first release “Talk Back Trembling Lips” was a huge success. This was followed over the years by another 16 chart records in the US. With 9 top ten hits, 15 top 40 hits. His recordings charted 48 times on the Billboard , Pop, Country, Adult Contemporary and Album charts , which makes Johnny one of the top 100 recording artists of the Rock era.
“Heartaches By The Number,” gave Johnny his second Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Performance. He also recorded the popular hit theme song for the T.V. show Gidget starring Sally Field and has had many recordings in Motion Pictures, Television and Commercial fare.
Johnny has recorded in 5 languages English, Japanese, German, Spanish, and Italian. In addition to his US hits Johnny has had many hits internationally. With over 100 chart entries internationally, he’s had at least 6 #1 recordings including “Poetry In Motion,” “Judy, Judy, Judy,” “Namida Kun Sayonara,” “You and Me,” “Cutie Pie,” and “You Can Never Stop Me Loving You.”
As stated previously, he is a 2 time Grammy nominee, has won numerous songwriting awards and was recently the recipient of the prestigious "Alumnus Of Distinction" award from the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida. Johnny is a 2008 inductee into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
These hits , his endearing personality and stage presence have enabled Johnny to have a very successful recording and concert career, entertaining audiences all over the world.