As we reported earlier on Wednesday (Feb. 15), Tim Rice is this year’s recipient of the Johnny Mercer Award, the top honor given by the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Rice joins a long list of Mercer Award recipients which includes Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Paul Simon, Stephen Sondheim, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Dolly Parton and Neil Diamond.
Mercer died in 1976, so you can be excused if you don’t know all that much about him. Mercer was a top lyricist of the Great American Songbook era, but his creative peak extended beyond that era. He won back-to-back Oscars in 1962-63 for co-writing “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses.” Henry Mancini, who composed both of those hits, saluted Mercer with a memorable line from “Moon River” when they won for “Days of Wine and Roses,” saying “and my huckleberry friend, Johnny Mercer.”
Mercer’s other most famous songs include “Hooray for Hollywood” (a perennial on the Oscars), “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)” (a classic saloon song that is one of Frank Sinatra’s signature hits), “Summer Wind” (another Sinatra classic from 1966), “Fools Rush In” (which Rick Nelson revived in 1963), “Dream” (one of the most melancholy ballads of the World War II years), “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate-the-Positive” (it appeared recently in M3GAN), “I’m an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)” (Lucy and Ethel sang it on a 1954 episode of I Love Lucy), “That Old Black Magic” (Louis Prima & Keely Smith’s classic version was a winner at the first Grammy Awards) and “I Wanna Be Around” (Tony Bennett’s highest-charting Hot 100 hit).
Here are more Mercer songs you probably know: “Autumn Leaves,” “Blues in the Night,” “Jeepers, Creepers!,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “I Remember You,” “Charade,” “Skylark” and “Too Marvelous for Words.”
Scan these 13 Fun Facts and learn more about the man for whom the Songwriters Hall of Fame named their top award.
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