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Paul Albert Anka, OC (born July 30, 1941) is an Orthodox Christian Canadian singer, songwriter, and actor. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1990.[1]

Anka first became famous as a teen idol in the late 1950s and 1960s with hit songs like "Diana'", "Lonely Boy", and "Put Your Head on My Shoulder". He went on to write such well-known music as the theme for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, one of Tom Jones' biggest hits, "She's a Lady", and the English lyrics for Frank Sinatra's signature song, "My Way".

In 1983, he co-wrote with Michael Jackson the song "I Never Heard," which was retitled and released in 2009 under the name "This Is It".[2] An additional song that Jackson co-wrote with Anka from this 1983 session, "Love Never Felt So Good," has since been discovered, and will be released in the near future.[3]

Early life

Anka was born in Ottawa, Ontario in Canada. His parents were immigrants from Lebanon to Canada, who owned a successful restaurant in Ottawa.[1] He sang with the St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church choir under the direction of Frederick Karam, with whom he studied music theory. He also studied piano with Winnifred Rees.

Career

Early success

Anka recorded his first single "I Confess" at age 14. In 1957 he went to New York City where he auditioned for Don Costa at ABC, singing what was widely believed to be a lovestruck verse he had written to a former babysitter. In an interview with NPR's Terry Gross in 2005, he stated that it was to a girl at his church whom he hardly knew.[4] The song, "Diana", brought Anka instant stardom as it rocketed to number one on the Canadian and U.S. music charts.[5] "Diana" is one of the best selling singles ever by a Canadian recording artist.[6] He followed up with four songs that made it into the Top 20 in 1958,[7] including "It's Time to Cry", which made #4 and "(All Of a Sudden) My Heart Sings", which reached #15, making him, at 17, one of the biggest teen idols of the time. He toured Britain and then, with Buddy Holly, he toured Australia. Anka also wrote "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" a song written for Buddy Holly which Holly recorded just before he died in 1959.

His talent went beyond singing the theme for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (reworked in 1962 from a song Anka wrote earlier called "Toot Sweet" which had been rewritten with lyrics and recorded by Annette Funicello in 1959 as "It's Really Love"); Tom Jones' biggest hit record "She's a Lady"; and the English lyrics to "My Way," Frank Sinatra's signature song sung by many well known artists.

In the 1960s Anka began acting in motion pictures as well as writing songs for them, most notably the theme for the hit movie The Longest Day. From his movie work, he wrote and recorded one of his greatest hits, "Lonely Boy" and also "My Home Town", which was a #8 pop hit for him the same year. He then went on to become one of the first pop singers to perform at the Las Vegas casinos. Anka returns to Canada several times a year, regularly playing to sold out crowds at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls, Ontario in Canada. In 1960, he appeared twice as himself in NBC's short-lived crime drama Dan Raven, starring Skip Homeier and set on the Sunset Strip of West Hollywood.

Comeback

In 1960 Anka signed with RCA Records, but like most North American recording artists, saw his career stalled by the British Invasion. By the late 1960s, Anka's career centered around adult contemporary and big-band standards, played regularly in Las Vegas. In the early 1970s he signed with Buddah Records. After more than ten years without a hit record, he then signed with United Artists, and in 1974, he teamed up with Odia Coates to record the number one hit, (You're) Having My Baby. They would record two more duets that both made it into the Top 10. These were I Don't Like to Sleep Alone (#8) and One Man Woman/One Woman Man (#7). In 1975, he recorded a jingle for Kodak called Times of Your Life. The jingle, written by Bill Lane and Roger Nichols, became so popular that Anka recorded it as a full song, and it became a hit a year later, peaking at #7 in the U.S. pop charts.

His 1998 album A Body of Work, despite a name that makes it sound like a compilation, is actually his first new U.S. studio release since Walk a Fine Line in 1983; vocals and performers include Celine Dion, Kenny G, Patti LaBelle and Skyler Jett. On September 6, 1990, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 2005, his album Rock Swings, comprising big-band arrangements of contemporary standards, provided a mainstream comeback of sorts and saw Anka awarded a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto.

On October 12, 2009, Anka stated that Michael Jackson's new release titled "This Is It" was a collaborative effort between the two musicians, and that it was co-written by Anka in 1983. According to Anka, after recording the song, Michael Jackson decided not to use it, and the tune was then recorded and released by singer Sa-Fire. After he threatened to sue for credit and a share of royalties the administrators of Jackson's estate granted Anka fifty percent of the copyright.[8] An additional song that Jackson co-wrote with Anka from this 1983 session, "Love Never Felt So Good," was discovered shortly thereafter, and will be released in the near future.[3]

Italy

Already locally famous as a teenage idol for his songs in the English language, in 1960 Anka tried to hit the Italian market with Summer's Gone, released as Dove Sei? with lyrics translated into Italian. The record got immediate success charting #4 in Italian hit lists[9] opening a promising foreign career. Anka then underwent an intense cooperation with Italian musicians of the time, including composer/director Ennio Morricone, singer/songwriter Lucio Battisti and lyricist Mogol. His official discography reports nine 45rpm records released by RCA Italy[10], but the Italian charts list at least six other songs he interpreted or recorded in Italian language, his greatest success being Ogni giorno which scored #1 in 1962, followed by Piangerò per te and Ogni volta that reached both #2 in 1963 and 1964 respectively. The latter was sung by Paul Anka during the Festival di San Remo of 1964. Anka went to San Remo again in 1968, this time with the song La farfalla impazzita by Battisti-Mogol. In that occasion, the same title was interpreted by Italian crooner Johnny Dorelli; however, the pair of singers was eliminated before the final stage of the competition. Anka, maybe only coincidentally, left the Italian scene shortly thereafter.

In 2003, Anka came back with an exclusive concert in Bologna, organized by Italian company Mapei during the CERSAIE exhibition. He also recorded a version of My Way with alternate lyrics dedicated to the sponsor of the evening.

In 2006, Paul Anka recorded in duet with 1960's Italian hitmaker Adriano Celentano a new cover of Diana, with Italian lyrics by Celentano-Mogol and with singer/songwriter Alex Britti on the guitar.[11] The song immediately reached #3 on the charts.

Other countries

With less success than in Italy, Anka tried the French market as well. At least two songs by Anka with French lyrics are known: one reported by the Italian charts (Faibles femmes, 1959[9]) and another reported by his official discography (Comme Avant[10]).

A single release in Japanese (Kokoro No Sasae / Shiawase E No Tabiji) is also reported on his discography.

Personal life

He was married to Anne de Zogheb, the daughter of Lebanese diplomat Count Charles de Zogheb, from February 16, 1963 to September 28, 2000. Anka met de Zogheb in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1962. Of English, Lebanese, French, Dutch and Greek descent, she was a fashion model on assignment and under contract to the Eileen Ford Agency. The couple married the following year in a ceremony at Orly Airport in Paris. De Zogheb quit modeling after their second child was born. They have five daughters: Amelia, Anthea, Alicia, Amanda (wife of actor Jason Bateman) and Alexandra.

Anka has a son (Ethan, born 2005) with Swedish model and actress Anna Anka (born Åberg and earlier married Yeager),[12] and is the stepfather of Anna Anka's daughter Elli, born 2002). Anka and Anna Åberg (she reverted to her maiden name after the divorce) were married in Sardinia during the summer of 2008. She is thirty years his junior.

Anna is currently one of the women in the new Swedish TV3 show Svenska Hollywoodfruar (Swedish Hollywood wives).

In Canada, Ottawa City Council named 26 August 1981 'Paul Anka Day' to celebrate his 25th anniversary in show business.[13] A street in Ottawa is named 'Paul Anka Drive' in his honour. He attended Fisher Park High School. The woman that inspired 'Diana' lives with her family in Ottawa. After receiving a negative review for a 1981 performance in Ottawa, he swore off performing there and did not play there again for almost twenty years, until an April 2002 fundraiser gala at the Ottawa Congress Centre.[14]

In 1991, he signed an investment agreement with the new Ottawa Senators NHL franchise. The agreement ended up being dissolved in an out-of-court settlement in 1993.

Some sources identify Anka's religion as being Catholic[15], others as Syriac Orthodox.[16] According to Anna Anka, Paul is non-religious.[17]

Partial discography

  • "Diana" (1957)
  • "Crazy Love" (1958)
  • "You Are My Destiny" (1958)
  • "It's Time to Cry" (1959)
  • "Lonely Boy" (1959)
  • "I Miss You So" (1959)
  • "(All of A Sudden) My Heart Sings" (1959)
  • "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" (1959)
  • "Puppy Love" (1960)
  • "Tonight My Love, Tonight" (1961)
  • "Eso Beso (That Kiss)" (1962)
  • "Young, Alive and in Love" (1962)
  • "Do I Love You" (1972)
  • "(You're) Having My Baby" (1974) - Duet with Odia Coates
  • "I Don't Like to Sleep Alone" (1974) - Duet with Odia Coates
  • "One Man Woman/One Woman Man" (1974) - Duet with Odia Coates
  • "Times of Your Life" (1975)
  • "Feelings" (1975)
  • The Painter (1977)
  • The Music Man (1977)
  • "Walk a Fine Line" (1983)
  • "Hold Me 'Til the Morning Comes" (1983)
  • "It's Hard to Say Goodbye" (1986) - Duet with Regine Velasquez
  • "Somebody Loves You" (1989)
  • "It's Hard to Say Goodbye' (1998) - Duet with Celine Dion
  • Rock Swings # 9 UK (2005)
  • Classic Songs, My Way (2007)

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Anka, Paul". The Canadian Encyclopedia. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=U1ARTU0000084. Retrieved 2007-03-26. 
  2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8304118.stm
  3. 3.0 3.1 http://www.seattlepi.com/tvguide/411122_tvgif13.html
  4. Paul Anka bio, Ticketmaster.com
  5. "Canadian Charts from 1957 - 1986". 1050chum.com. http://www.1050chum.com/index_chumcharts.aspx.  Retrieved November 26, 2006
  6. "Gold & Platinum certification of albums at RIAA". www.riaa.com. http://www.riaa.com/gp/database/search_results.asp.  Retrieved November 26, 2006
  7. "U.S Billboard chart rankings". billboard.com. http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/charts/yearend_chart_index.jsp.  Retrieved November 26, 2006
  8. http://www.reuters.com/article/companyNewsAndPR/idUSN1215390020091013
  9. 9.0 9.1 Hit Parade Italia. Indice per interprete: A. Anka Paul. www.hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved on 13 Feb 2009.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Paul Anka Official Site. Discography. Import singles. www.paulanka.com Retrieved on 13 Feb 2009.
  11. M. L. Fegiz: Duetto inedito con Paul Anka nella storia musicale di Celentano. Corriere Della Sera, 07 Nov 2006.
  12. "Paul Anka will always do it his way". http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/A/Anka_Paul/2008/02/29/4883738-sun.html. 
  13. "Ottawa honors Anka", The Globe and Mail: pg. 2 
  14. "Anka to perform in Ottawa for first time in 20 years: The singer's self-imposed exile from his home town will end next spring, with a gala fundraiser for the Canadian Liver Foundation", The Ottawa Citizen: pg. F1, October 24, 2001 
  15. http://www.utpress.utoronto.ca/cgi-bin/cw2w3.cgi?p=andiappa&t=52475&d=2528
  16. Paul Anka Biography
  17. Personal conversation with chair of Wikimedia Sverige, email through OTRS to follow

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