Guy Mitchell racked up nearly 40 hit records in a short 10 year span between 1950 and 1960. The tunes ranged from novelty to folk to country. Mitchell’s “Singing the Blues” topped the charts for 9 weeks in the late 50’s.
He’s remembered as a nice guy – in fact, that’s what led to his stage name, bestowed on him by none other than Mitch Miller!
From Detroit to Hollywood
Mitchell started life as Al Cernick, born in 1927 in Detroit. His parents were Yugoslavian immigrants. When young Al was just 11, they moved to California and Al auditioned for Warner Brothers.
His budding child star career was put on hold, however, when his parents moved to San Francisco. He continued singing, however, and signed on with Carmen Cavallero’s orchestra in 1947. In 1949, he was an Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts winner.
Al’s big break came in 1950, when Frank Sinatra bailed on a recording session for Columbia Records. Producer Mitch Miller had the band waiting in the studio and needed a replacement fast.
Just a Nice “Guy”
Miller remembered Al Cernick from demo records, called him in and gave him the tunes, as well as a new name. Legend has it that Miller used his own first name, and the fact that Cernick was a nice guy, to come up with.. Guy Mitchell.
Those two songs, “My Heart Cries for You” and “The Roving Kind” went to the top five on the charts and Mitchell was on his way. His string of hits included “My Truly, Truly Fair” and “Heartaches by the Number”, as well as “Singing the Blues”.
Life in the Movies
Mitchell did make it into the movies, starring in “Those Redheads From Seattle” in 1953 and the musical Western spoof, “Red Garters” with Rosemary Clooney and Jack Carson in 1954. He also dabbled in TV, hosting “The Guy Mitchell Show” on ABC in 1957.
Mitchell died in 1999 of complications resulting from surgery. He was 72 years old and survived by his wife, two sons and five grandchildren.