Rewinding The Charts: 56 Years Ago, Johnny Mathis' 'Hits' Hit The Top

The singer's 1958 album reigned ... and introduced 'greatest hits' to the music biz lexicon

Chances are (pun intended) the term "greatest hits" would not have become a familiar phrase had it not been for the runaway success of Johnny Mathis' 1958 album, "Johnny's Greatest Hits."

"That was the beginning of all the greatest hits stuff," Mathis told Craig Rosen for his 1996 "Billboard Book of Number One Albums." "It was just another marketing ploy, but no one had really started doing that until that album."

Ploy or not, it worked, big time. The Columbia Records album, which features the pop crooner's iconic single "Chances Are," sailed to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 (then called Best Selling Pop LP's) dated June 9, 1958 and ruled the chart for three weeks. (At the time, the survey was "under the direct and continuing supervision and control of the School of Retailing of New York University.") The set went on to spend 490 weeks on the chart, a total bested only by Pink Floyd's 1973 landmark "The Dark Side of the Moon," which lasted for 861 weeks.

Mathis would hit the top of the Billboard 200 again with 1959's "Heavenly" and has continued to rack up chart hits in every decade since. In 2013, he reached No. 53 with "Sending You a Little Christmas," his highest-charting album since 1978.

"Every time I try to tell people things about my career, I wonder if that's the truth or something I'm fantasizing about," Mathis, who is still going strong at age 78, told Billboard in 2011. "I have no way of knowing why my career has lasted so long other than the fact that people like the sound of my voice. Fortunately, I've been able to maintain it."


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