Too Much, Too Little, Too Late is the beautiful hit duet between the legendary voice of romance, Johnny Mathis and the earth shattering soul stopper Deniece Williams. The song reached number one on three different billboard charts including the Hot 100 in 1978.
The Story Behind Too Much, Too Little, Too Late
Johnny Mathis was looking to record his first duet in 1977. Minnie Ripperton was coming off of the number one hit “Lovin’ You” from 1975. And she was going to do the recording. However, Minnie got sick. And she was not able to do the session.
Enter Deniece Williams
Stevie Wonder’s backing group, Wonderlove, suggested a young singer named Deniece Williams. And when she received the call, she was elated. Deniece grew up watching and listening to Johnny as a young girl. It turns out both Johnny and Deniece were nervous about the duet.
The Beginning of Something Special
Deniece was nervous singing with an Icon. And Johnny was nervous because he’d never done a duet and wasn’t sure how to proceed. So, Deniece brought a bottle of wine. After a drink or two, they both settled in. Deniece was used to singing backing vocals, so she knew what parts would fit best. They had a great experience together and would later record many other duets.
The Meaning of Too Much, Too Little, Too Late
After recording the song, neither Johnny or Deniece knew the meaning of the song. They loved it, but they had no idea what it meant. So they called up the writer, Nat Kipner. Nat was over the moon that they recorded Too Much, Too Little, Too Late. He loved the song and wrote it 17 years earlier. Oddly enough, Nat didn’t know what it was about either! It just came to him. So they released the song with no expectations.
The Song Becomes a Hit
One day, Deniece heard the song in heavy rotation. She called Johnny and told him she felt it would be a number one hit. She was right. Too Much, Too Little, Too Late became a number one hit in the summer of 1978. And the song was battling some real heavyweights. The Bee Gees, Wings, and Donna Summer all released hit songs that summer. Too Much, Too Little, Too Late hit number one on the R&B and Adult Contemporary charts. It also hit number one in Canada and #3 in the UK. It would become Johnny’s biggest hit since Chances Are in 1957.
Johnny and Deniece remain close friends to this day.