Year By Year

1941-1948

Assists in war efforts by performing for troops stationed in California, and creates recordings for the Armed Forces Radio Service including Command Performance, Mail Call, Song Sheet and V-Discs.

1942

Co-founds Capitol Records with colleagues Buddy De Sylva and Glenn Wallichs; serves as Capitol’s first president and oversees artists and repertoire. Nurtures the talent of artists including Margaret Whiting, Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra and Nat “King” Cole.

Mercer writes the music, lyrics, and records the third release on Capitol Records, “Strip Polka.” The song becomes an early hit for the new record label.

Collaborates with Jerome Kern to produce the songs “I’m Old Fashioned” and “Dearly Beloved,” and with Harold Arlen to create “That Old Black Magic” and “Blues in the Night.”

1944

Begins to host The Johnny Mercer Chesterfield Music Shop that was heard coast to coast five nights a week, and featured Jo Stafford, the Pied Pipers with June Hutton, and the Paul Weston Orchestra. Writes the music and lyrics for the song “Dream,” which becomes the theme music for the radio program.

1945

Three more recordings featuring Mercer as a singer (“Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive”, “Candy,” and “On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe”) reach the No. 1 position on the Hit Parade.

1946

First “Best Song” Academy Award for “On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe” written with Harry Warren (from the film The Harvey Girls).

Broadway premiere of the musical St. Louis Woman written with Harold Arlen. The production features an all-black cast that includes Pearl Bailey and the Nicholas Brothers, and results in several memorable songs such as “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Anyplace I Hang My Hat is My Home.”

1948

Co-hosts the Call For Music radio program with Dinah Shore.