JACKSON, TN (CelebrityAccess) — Rockabilly singer and pianist Carl Mann, who recorded hits such as “Mona Lisa” for Sun Records, died on Wednesday at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital in Jackson, Tennessee. He was 78.
A cause of death was not disclosed but Mann’s passing was first reported by the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Born and raised in rural Tennessee, Mann began performing at local church events and talent shows when he was still a youth and released his firt single “Gonna Rock and Roll Tonight” on Jaxon Records when he was just 15.
After a series of moderately successful singles on Jaxon, Mann signed a management deal with Carl Perkins’ drummer, W.S. Holland, opening the door for Mann to sign a three-year recording deal with Sun Records’s Sam Phillips.
Mann’s first Sun recording, rockabilly version of Nat King Cole‘s “Mona Lisa“, proved to be the first major hit for the 16-year-old artist, peaking at #24 on the US Black Singles chart and #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959.
However, he failed to achieve similar success with follow up releases, with 1959’s “Pretend” stalling at #57 and his 1960 LP Like Mann failing to find traction with fans.
He did a stint in the army, starting in 1964, but his subsequent single “Down to My Last I Love You”, on Monument Records failed to chart and he took a hiatus from the industry.
In 1974, he returned as a country artist, releasing singles on ABC and Dot, including “Twilight Time” which was a modest hit.
In 1977, he signed a deal with Dutch label Rockhouse Records and released a double album featuring both live and studio material. He also found some success touring in Europe during the 1980s amid the rockabilly revival, but eventually left the industry to join his family’s logging business.
In 2011, he was the subject of “The Last Son of Sun,” a biography detailing his life and self-published his final album in 2012.
Plans for a memorial service are pending.