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To some listeners, the name Guy Mitchell evokes contempt -- as the singer whose pop-styled covers of "Singin' the Blues" and "Knee Deep in the Blues" cut the legs out from under Marty Robbins' country-styled original renditions. To others, Mitchell evokes the last period of America's innocence, the mid-'50s, when he periodically ascended the pop charts in the company of singers like Frankie Laine. Mitchell was all of those things and more, in some ways a trail-blazer -- he was the first major recording artist whose career was crafted in the studio, by a record company, and sold to the public by way of records and the radio, not concerts. He was the precursor to the late-'50s teen idols crafted by the industry as an alternative to the burgeoning success of rock & roll. In contrast to some of the younger male singing idols of that era, however, Mitchell had a genuinely good voice as his starting point in music.
He was born Al Cernick in Detroit in 1927, into a Yugoslavian immigrant family whose members sang as often as possible, for their own pleasure. He made his first appearance as a singer at age three, at a wedding reception. The Cernick family moved across the country in search of a place they liked, before reaching Los Angeles in 1938. He was spotted by a talent scout and signed up as a child performer at Warner Bros. Studios that same year, and managed to vocally project over a studio-controlled radio station.
The family's move to San Francisco in 1940 ended the boy's relationship with Warner Bros., but he kept taking voice lessons. A summer job on a ranch in the San Joachin Valley taught him the basics of a cowboy's skills, and by the time he was 17, he was working as an apprentice saddle-maker. He kept on singing in his spare time, and this led to the offer of a spot on a local radio show.
He joined the navy for a two-year hitch in 1944, resuming his radio singing career afterward. In 1947, he joined the Carmen Cavallaro Orchestra, still billed as Al Cernick, as the featured vocalist, but a bout of food poisoning caused him to drop out. In 1948, he cut some sides for King Records as Al Grant, and won first prize on Arthur Godfrey's Talents Scouts radio program. This led to his being hired as a demo singer by various music publishers (one of the songs he demoed was "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer").
The singer was signed up by impresario Eddie Joy, who intensified his training and finally introduced him to Mitch Miller, the head of Artists and Repertory for Columbia Records. It was Miller who transformed Al Cernick into Guy Mitchell, using his own first same for the surname. Mitchell's first five singles at Columbia failed, and his career was only rescued when Frank Sinatra, still with Columbia Records, declined to cut a pair of songs for which Miller had already set recording sessions and engaged musicians. Mitchell was brought into the studio, and the resulting recordings of "My Heart Cries for You" and "The Roving Kind" rode the charts for 21 weeks in 1951, selling nearly two million copies.
Mitchell's recording career was made, although his performing career needed work -- he'd hardly had the chance to develop a serious stage act or effective persona when he was booked into some of the biggest clubs in New York, and roundly criticized for what some onlookers felt were amateurish aspects of his presentation. Additionally, nobody had given thought to a problem that hadn't afflicted too many pop stars before -- his performances didn't match the rich, highly produced sound of his recordings.
These difficulties were eventually overcome, and Mitchell became a major draw in concert for a time, sustained by a handful of follow-up hits, including "My Truly, Truly Fair." He became especially popular in England, where his shows were consistent sell-outs.
Meanwhile, his chart hits stopped coming in the mid-'50s, and even a brief venture into film acting in westerns failed to enhance Mitchell's popularity. He might've disappeared with the coming of rock & roll, had it not been for the marketing strategies of Mitch Miller at Columbia Records. In 1956, Marty Robbins was tearing up the country charts with "Singin' the Blues," on Columbia, and Miller chose Guy Mitchell to cut a pop-style cover of the song. Robbins' song was a huge hit as was, and might've been even bigger -- in those days, songs were regularly crossing over between the charts -- but Mitchell's version supplanted it on pop music stations, and on the charts, where it spent nine weeks at number one and sold well over a million copies. Mitchell had a follow-up hit with his cover of another Robbins song, "Knee Deep in the Blues," and then milked the rock & roll bandwagon one last time with "Rock-a-billy." He never connected with audiences or the charts quite so strongly again, but he didn't have to. A television variety show followed, and his concert career in America remained viable until the end of the '50s, and then he toured England again, to huge crowds.
Late in 1959, Mitchell scored one last number one hit with "Heartaches by the Number." By that time, he was running into competition from a brand of teen pop music more similar to his own music than to the rock & roll that it supplanted. Further attempts at acting on television and another movie failed to reignite Mitchell's career. Mitchell left Columbia Records in 1961, but he was unable to crack the charts again, either for his own manager's label (Joy Records) or for Reprise, where he tried recording in the mid-'60s. He retired in the mid-'60s, but like any number of '50s singing stars, Mitchell later hit it big on the nostalgia circuit, and re-emerged in this vein in the '80s -- he remained a top attraction in England, even at that late date, and also found an audience in the former Yugoslavia in the wake of the fall of the Eastern bloc. He died following surgery on July 1, 1999.
Guy Mitchell, born Albert George Cernik (February 22, 1927 – July 1, 1999) was an American pop singer, successful in his homeland, the U.K. and Australia. As an international recording star of the 1950s he achieved record sales in excess of 44 million units and this included six million-selling singles.
In the fall of 1957, Mitchell starred in his own ABC variety show, The Guy Mitchell Show. He also appeared as George Romack on the 1961 NBC western detective series Whispering Smith, with World War II hero Audie Murphy in the leading role.
Life and career 
Born of Croatian immigrants, in Detroit, Michigan, at the age of eleven he was signed by Warner Brothers Pictures, to be groomed as a child star, and he also performed on the radio on Station KFWB in Los Angeles, California. After leaving school, he worked as a saddlemaker, but supplemented his income by singing whenever he could. At this point in his life, Dude Martin, who had a country music broadcast in San Francisco, noticed him and hired him to perform with his band.
He served in the United States Navy for two years, and after leaving the service became a singer with Carmen Cavallaro's big band. In 1947 he made recordings for Decca with Cavallaro's band, but had to leave due to food poisoning. He eventually went to New York City, and made records for King Records under the name Al Grant (one in particular, "Cabaret", appeared in the Variety magazine charts). He won on the radio show Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts in 1949 as a soloist.
Mitch Miller, who was in charge of talent at Columbia Records, noticed Cernik in 1950, and he joined Columbia and got his new stage name at Miller's urging: Miller is supposed to have said, "my name is 'Mitchell' and you seem a nice 'guy', so we'll call you Guy Mitchell". Bob Merrill wrote a string of top hits for Mitchell.
In the 1950s and 1960s he acted in movies as well as singing. He did movies with Teresa Brewer, Pat Crowley, and Rosemary Clooney (Red Garters). He also sang in the Braemor Rooms, Churchtown, Dublin, Ireland.
His first hit was "My Heart Cries for You" (1951). Though he is a pre-rock pop singer, many of his songs have a decided rock beat to them, including "Heartaches by the Number", "Rock-a-Billy", "The Same Old Me" and his biggest hit, "Singing the Blues", which was number one for 10 weeks in 1956.
Personal life 
He was married three times, first to Jackie Loughery, a former Miss USA, then to Elsa Sorensen, who had been a Miss Denmark. His third wife, Betty, survives him after 25 years of marriage.
He died on July 1, 1999, aged 72, of complications from cancer surgery.
In 2007, to commemorate his musical legacy and what would have been his 80th birthday, the English division of SonyBMG released The Essential Collection CD.
His song "Heartaches by the Number" was part of the soundtrack of the game Fallout: New Vegas.