When Paul Anka emerged from the Canadian capital city of Ottawa into the international music market with his plaintive song, "Diana," a rich and imaginative new vein of musical style entered the pop mainstream. The 15-year-old Anka whose wailing lament about an older woman on whom he had a distinct crush, had a special down-to-earth feel to his music with which almost ankÂne could identify.
At a time in the late '50s when there was much rocking and rolling going on with the likes of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Motown groups hitting the charts repeatedly, Anka's young heart was giving vent to typical and relatively uncomplicated teen style thinking. Among the best-known titles of that early era: “Put Your Head On My Shoulder,” “You Are My Destiny," "Lonely Boy" and "Puppy Love." As one columnist has observed, "Anka cut a special musical niche filled with the wonders of romance."
By the early '60s, Anka had become well established as a major new performing star and prolific songwriter. He was a frequent guest on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand," through which he continued to expand his profile. Expanding too were his songwriting skills as he moved into more sophisticated fare. In 1962, he wrote what may well be the most played-on-the-air song in television history, "The Tonight Show" theme, universally recognized for 30 years and said to have been performed more than 1,400,000 times during the show's long run with host, Johnny Carson.
By this time, Anka had taken up residence in The United States and was busily creating movie music. His soundtrack for "The Longest Day," a film in which he also acted, won him an Academy Award nomination. He also wrote the theme and title song for the film, "No Way Out," and the theme for Louis Malle's "Atlantic City," which won top honors at the Venice Film Festival.
His songwriting activity has never tapered. His subject matter, however, has continued to deal with more basic themes of romance. His major hits of the “70s include "Having My Baby," "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone," "One Man Woman" and "The Times of Your Life." The latter ultimately became a theme for a Kodak commercial. Later, in 1983, Anka scored with another major hit, "Hold Me 'Til the Morning Comes," with assists from David Foster and ex-Chicago singer, Peter Cetera.
Many leading stars have recorded the songs of Paul Anka, including Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Connie Francis, Mitch Miller, Buddy Holly, Tom Jones and The Doobie Brothers. The song, "My Way," which he adapted from a French ballad, has proven one of his most enduring and endearing songs with classic hit versions by both Sinatra and Elvis Presley (his final single recording).
Beyond his songwriting talents, Anka is recognized as one of the most successful and respected stars of the Las Vegas and Atlantic City nightclub circuit as well as on concert stages throughout the world. He has also enjoyed significant success as an actor. His credits include "The Longest Day," a number of films for television including "Perry Mason," "Captain Ron," and "Ordinary Magic."
Over the years, Anka has also enjoyed substantial international popularity, having recorded albums in Japanese, German, Spanish, French and Italian. During the mid-'60s, he lived for two years in Italy, where his Italian composition, "Ogni Valta," sold 15 million copies and took top honors at that country's annual San Remo Song Festival. And in the early 1990’s, he was honored by the French government being made Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters. He is one of only three Americans ever to have received this prestigious award.
Most recently, Anka's interests have been renewed in his native Ottawa, where he is a co-owner of the city's National Hockey League franchise, The Ottawa Senators.
Anka has been married for nearly 40 years to the former model, Anne de Zogheb. They are the parents of five daughters, Amelia, Anthea, Alicia, Amanda and Alexandra.