Paul Anka

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Paul Anka
Anka at the 2007 North Sea Jazz Festival
Background information
Birth namePaul Albert Anka
Born(1941-07-30) July 30, 1941 (age 73)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
GenresPop, soft rock, jazz, doo-wop
OccupationsSinger, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, piano, guitar
Years active1955–present
LabelsABC-Paramount, EMI Columbia, RCA, United Artists, Columbia
WebsiteOfficial website
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Paul Anka
Anka at the 2007 North Sea Jazz Festival
Background information
Birth namePaul Albert Anka
Born(1941-07-30) July 30, 1941 (age 73)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
GenresPop, soft rock, jazz, doo-wop
OccupationsSinger, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, piano, guitar
Years active1955–present
LabelsABC-Paramount, EMI Columbia, RCA, United Artists, Columbia
WebsiteOfficial website

Paul Albert Anka, OC (born July 30, 1941) is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and actor. Anka became famous in the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s with hit songs like "Diana", "Lonely Boy", "Put Your Head on My Shoulder", and "(You're) Having My Baby". He wrote such well-known music as the theme for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and one of Tom Jones's biggest hits, "She's a Lady", as well as the English lyrics for Frank Sinatra's signature song, "My Way" (originally the French song "Comme d'habitude"). He was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2005.

In 1983, he co-wrote the song "I Never Heard" with Michael Jackson. It was retitled and released in 2009 under the name "This Is It".[1] An additional song that Jackson co-wrote with Anka from this 1983 session, "Love Never Felt So Good", was since discovered and was released on Jackson's posthumous album Xscape in 2014. The song was also released by Johnny Mathis in 1984.

Anka became a naturalized US citizen in 1990.

Early life[edit]

Anka was born in Ottawa, Ontario. His parents, Camelia (Tannis) and Andrew Emile "Andy" Anka, Sr., owned a restaurant called the Locanda.[2] They were both of Antiochian Orthodox Church Syrian descent.[3][4] He sang with the St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church choir under the direction of Frederick Karam, with whom he studied music theory. He studied piano with Winnifred Rees. He attended Fisher Park High School, where he was part of a vocal trio called the Bobby Soxers.[5][6]


Early success[edit]

Paul Anka at Gröna Lund, Stockholm 1959.
Anka in 1961.

Paul Anka recorded his first single, "I Confess", when he was 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.[7] The song "Diana" brought Anka stardom as it rocketed to #1 on the Canadian and U.S. music charts.[8] "Diana" is one of the best selling singles ever by a Canadian recording artist.[9] He followed up with four songs that made it into the Top 20 in 1958,[10] including "It's Time to Cry", which hit #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, then Australia with Buddy Holly. Anka also wrote "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" – a song written for Holly, which Holly recorded just before he died in 1959. Anka stated shortly afterward:

"It Doesn't Matter Anymore" has a tragic irony about it now, but at least it will help look after Buddy Holly's family. I'm giving my composer's royalty to his widow – it's the least I can do.[11]

Paul Anka's talent included the theme for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (reworked in 1962 from a song Anka wrote earlier called "Toot Sweet"; it had been rewritten with lyrics and recorded by Annette Funicello in 1959 as "It's Really Love"). Anka composed Tom Jones's biggest hit record, "She's a Lady", and wrote the English lyrics to "My Way", Frank Sinatra's signature song. In the 1960s Anka began acting in motion pictures as well as writing songs for them, most notably the theme for the hit film The Longest Day, in which he made a cameo appearance as a US Army Ranger. For his film work he wrote and recorded one of his greatest hits, "Lonely Boy". He also wrote and recorded "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. In 1960 he appeared twice as himself in NBC's short-lived crime drama Dan Raven.

Paul Anka's star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

In 1960, Anka signed with RCA Victor. He bought the rights and ownership of his ABC-Paramount catalog in 1963,[12] but like most North American recording artists saw his career stalled by the British Invasion. By the late 1960s, his career focused on 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 top 25 hit record, he signed with United Artists and in 1974 teamed up with Odia Coates to record the #1 hit, "(You're) Having My Baby". The two would record two more duets that made it into the Top 10, "One Man Woman/One Woman Man" (#7) and "I Don't Like to Sleep Alone" (#8), and the #15 duet "(I Believe) There's Nothing Stronger Than Our Love". In 1975 he recorded a jingle for Kodak written by Bill Lane (lyrics) and Roger Nichols (melody) called "Times of Your Life". It became so popular Anka recorded it as a full song, which peaked at #7 in the U.S. pop chart in 1976. The follow-up was another hit that Anka wrote for Sinatra, "Anytime (I'll Be There)", peaking at #33. Anka's last Top 40 hit in the U.S. was in the summer of 1983: "Hold Me 'Til The Mornin' Comes", which included backing vocals from then-Chicago frontman Peter Cetera; it hit #2 on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart.[13]


His 1998 album A Body of Work was his first new U.S. studio release since Walk a Fine Line in 1983; vocalists and performers included Celine Dion, Kenny G, Patti LaBelle, and Skyler Jett. The album included a new version of "Hold Me 'Til the Morning Comes", once again performed with Peter Cetera. In 2005, his album of big-band arrangements of contemporary standards, Rock Swings, provided a mainstream comeback of sorts that saw him 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 in 1983. According to Anka, after recording the song, Jackson decided not to use it and the tune was then recorded and released by Sa-Fire. After Anka threatened to sue for credit and a share of royalties, the administrators of Jackson's estate granted Anka 50% of the copyright.[14] An additional song that Jackson co-wrote with Anka from this 1983 session, "Love Never Felt So Good", was discovered shortly thereafter. His album Songs of December charted at #58 in Canada in November 2011.[15]


Already locally famous as a teenage idol for his songs in English, Anka hit the Italian market with "Summer's Gone" in 1960; it was released as "Dove Sei". The record got immediate success, reaching #4 on Italian hit lists,[16] opening a promising foreign career. Anka then underwent an intense collaboration with Italian musicians of the time, including composer/director Ennio Morricone, singer/songwriter Lucio Battisti, and lyricist Mogol. His official discography reports nine singles released by RCA Italy,[17] but the Italian charts list at least six other songs he interpreted or recorded in Italian. His top hit was "Ogni giorno" which scored #1 in 1962, followed by "Piangerò per te" and "Ogni volta", which reached both #2, in 1963 and 1964. "Ogni volta" ("Every Time") was sung by Anka during the Festival di Sanremo of 1964 and then sold more than one million copies in Italy alone; it was also awarded a gold disc.[18]

He returned to San Remo in 1968 with "La farfalla impazzita" by Battisti-Mogol. On that occasion the same title was interpreted by Italian crooner Johnny Dorelli. The pair of singers, however, were 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 the Italian company Mapei during the CERSAIE exhibition. He recorded a version of "My Way" with alternate lyrics dedicated to the sponsor of the evening.[citation needed]

In 2006 he recorded a duet with 1960s Italian hitmaker Adriano Celentano, a new cover of "Diana," with Italian lyrics by Celentano-Mogol and with singer/songwriter Alex Britti on the guitar.[19] The song hit #3.

Other countries[edit]

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[16]) and another reported by his official discography ("Comme Avant"[17]) with Mireille Mathieu. A single release in Japanese ("Kokoro No Sasae"/"Shiawase E No Tabiji") is also reported on his discography. In 1993 he recorded a duet with Philippine singer Regine Velasquez entitled "It's Hard to Say Goodbye", included in her album, Reason Enough. This song was re-recorded several years later by Anka and Celine Dion and was included in his album A Body of Work.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Anka was married to Anne de Zogheb, the daughter of Lebanese diplomat Charles de Zogheb, from February 16, 1963, until 2001.[20] They met in 1962 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she was a fashion model on assignment and under contract to the Eileen Ford Agency. Zogheb, brought up in Egypt, is of English, Lebanese, French, Dutch and Greek descent. The couple married the following year in a ceremony at Paris-Orly Airport. She quit modelling after their second child was born. They have five daughters: Amelia, Anthea, Alicia, Amanda (married to actor Jason Bateman), and Alexandra. In 2008, Anka married his personal trainer, Anna Åberg, in Sardinia.[21] They divorced in 2010 and share custody of their son, Ethan. Anna was featured in the Swedish TV show Svenska Hollywoodfruar (Swedish Hollywood wives).

In 1972, a street in Ottawa was named Paul Anka Drive.[22] In 1981, the Ottawa City Council named August 26 as "Paul Anka Day" to celebrate his quarter-century in show business.[23] On September 6, 1990, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.[24]

Anka has written an autobiography, My Way, co-written with David Dalton, with a foreword by Paul Holmgren.

Acting career[edit]

Anka's first acting role in a major film was in a cameo as an army private in The Longest Day (1962). He also composed the title song to the movie. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, he starred in such teen exploitation films as Girls Town (1959) and Look in Any Window (1961), in which he played a peeping tom. He later played an Elvis-hating casino pit manager in 3000 Miles To Graceland (2001) and a yacht broker in Captain Ron (1992). He guest-starred as a murder suspect in The Case of the Maligned Mobster (1991). In October 1995, he appeared in the episode Treehouse of Horror VI on The Simpsons. He made a guest appearance as himself in the episode "Red's Last Day" on That '70s Show. He made several appearances on the NBC TV series Las Vegas.

Other film and television appearances[edit]

Anka was the subject of the 1962 National Film Board of Canada documentary Lonely Boy, considered a classic work of cinema verite.[25] He wrote and performed songs in a 1985 Canadian children's Christmas cartoon, George and the Christmas Star. In American Idol's seasons 2 and 3, he made a special appearance and sang an adapted version of "My Way" that mocked the format of the show, as well as participants, judges, and the host. The performance was praised as "One of the Best Moments in American Idol".[citation needed]

Popular culture[edit]

In the mid-1980s,[26] Anka was secretly recorded while launching a tirade against his crew and band members, berating them for behavior that he considered unprofessional. When asked about it on the interview program Fresh Air, he referred to the person who did the recording as a "snake we later fired". The recording became widely known after being uploaded to the Internet and a number of quotes from it have since become famous, including "The guys get shirts!"; "Don't make a maniac out of me!"; and "Slice like a fucking hammer!".[27] Some of the quotes were reproduced verbatim by Al Pacino's character in the 2007 film Ocean's Thirteen.[26]

He was mentioned in the "Fish Licence" sketch in the tenth episode of Series 2 (23rd overall) of Monty Python's Flying Circus, which was first broadcast on December 1, 1970. Dealing with a postal clerk (Michael Palin) who thought it absurd to give all of one's pets the same name, Praline, (John Cleese) countered that there was nothing wrong with it, citing Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as an example. To support his argument, he submitted as evidence an entry from the book "Kemal Ataturk, the Man by E.W. Swanton with a foreword by Paul Anka".[28]

On Gilmore Girls, Lorelai Gilmore named her Polish Lowland Sheepdog after Anka.[29] Series co-creator Daniel Palladino chose the name after hearing the Rock Swings album at a coffeehouse.[30] In the cold open to the episode The Real Paul Anka, both Paul Ankas were featured in a dream sequence Lorelei describes to her daughter, Rory.[31][32]

On That 70's Show, Paul Anka made a brief cameo in the episode 'Red's Last Day'.


1958Let's RockSelf
1959Verboten!Self, behind opening credits
1959Girls TownJimmy Parlow
1960The Private Lives of Adam and EvePinkie Parker
1961Look in Any WindowCraig Fowler
1961The Seasons of YouthSelfDocumentary
1961Make Room for DaddyPaul Pryor in episode Old Man DannyTV Series
1962The Longest DayU.S. Army Ranger
1965The Red Skelton HourBonnie Prince Gorgeous in episode Nuts of the Round TableTV Series
1974KojakBuddy Maus in episode The BetrayalTV Series
1977Lindsay Wagner: Another Side of MeSelfTV Special
1977Elvis in ConcertNo role - Soundtrack #12: My Way written by Paul AnkaTV Special
1982The Paul Anka ShowHostTV Series
1983The Fall GuyVic Madison in episode Dirty LaundryTV Series
1987Crime StoryAnthony 'Tony' Dio in episode Top of the WorldTV Series
1991Perry Mason: The Case of the Maligned MobsterNick AngelTV Movie
1992Captain RonYacht Broker Donaldson
1993Ordinary MagicJoey Dean
1994Shake, Rattle and Rock!SelfTV Movie
1996Mad Dog TimeDanny Marks
20013000 Miles to GracelandPit Boss #1
2005Las Vegas!Self in episode Fake the Money and RunTV Series



YearTitleLabelFormatUS PeakCertification
1958Paul AnkaABC ParamountLP--
1959My Heart SingsABC ParamountCD, LP--
1960Anka at the Copa (live album)ABC ParamountLP23-
1960Swings For Young LoversABC ParamountCD, LP--
1960It's Christmas EverywhereABC ParamountLP--
1962Young, Alive, and In Love!RCALP61-
1962Let's Sit This One OutRCALP137-
19633 Great Guys (Paul Anka, Sam Cooke and Neil Sedaka)RCALP--
1969Goodnight My LoveRCALP101-
1969Life Goes OnRCALP194-
1972Paul AnkaBuddahCD, LP188-
1972JubilationBuddahCD, LP192-
1974AnkaUnited ArtistsCD, LP9Gold
1975FeelingsUnited ArtistsCD, LP36-
1975Times of Your Life (9 of 10 cuts from previous 2 albums)United ArtistsLP22Gold
1976The PainterUnited ArtistsCD, LP85-
1977The Music ManUnited ArtistsLP195-
1978Listen to Your HeartRCALP179-
1979HeadlinesRCACD, LP--
1981Both Sides of LoveRCALP171-
1983Walk a Fine LineColumbiaCD, LP156-
1987Freedom For The World (titled Freedom in Canada)A&MCD, LP--
1989Somebody Loves YouPolydorCD--
1996Amigos (Duets in Spanish)SonyCD--
2005Rock SwingsVerveCD120 (9 UK)-
2007Classic Songs, My WayDeccaCD139-
2011Songs of DecemberDeccaCD--

Compilation Albums[edit]

YearTitleLabelFormatUS PeakCertification
1959Paul Anka Sings His Big 15ABC ParamountCD, LP4-
1961Paul Anka Sings His Big 15, Vol. 2ABC ParamountLP72-
1962Paul Anka Sings His Big 15, Vol. 3ABC ParamountLP--
1962DianaABC ParamountCD, LP--
1963Paul Anka's 21 Golden HitsRCACD, LP65-
1969Diana (Paul Anka sings his Greatest Hits)RCALP--
198930th Anniversary CollectionRhinoCD--
1991Five Decades Greatest HitsCurbCD--
1992Classic HitsCurbCD--
1992My Greatest SongsRCACD--
1993In the 70sRCACD--
2000Vegas StyleTaragonCD--
2003Absolutely the Best of Paul Anka: The 70sEMICD--
2013Dianacally YoursBear FamilyCD--


YearSingleChart positions
"I Love You, Baby"97--3--
"Tell Me That You Love Me"---25--
1958"You Are My Destiny"7-146--
"Crazy Love"15--26--
"Let the Bells Keep Ringing"16-----
"Just Young"80----15
"The Teen Commandments"*29-----
"(All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings"15--1079
1959"I Miss You So"33----15
"Lonely Boy"1-6382
"Put Your Head On My Shoulder"2-127252
"It's Time To Cry"4-1328-2
1960"Puppy Love"2--33-3
"Adam and Eve"90----21
"My Home Town"8----6
"Something Happened"41-----
"Hello Young Lovers"23--44-13
"I Love You In the Same Old Way"40-----
"Summer's Gone"11-29---
"Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer"104-----
1961"The Story of My Love"16----26
"Don't Say You're Sorry"108-----
"Tonight My Love, Tonight"13----8
"Dance On Little Girl"10----12
"Kissin' On the Phone"35-----
"The Bells At My Wedding"104----26
1962"The Fools Hall of Fame"103-----
"I'd Never Find Another You"106-----
"I'm Coming Home"94-----
"Love Me Warm and Tender"12--1945-
"A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine"13--4135-
"Every Night (Without You)"46-----
"Eso Beso (That Kiss)"19---1423
1963"Love (Makes the World Go Round)"26-----
"Remember Diana"39---42-
"Hello Jim"97---46-
"Did You Have a Happy Birthday?"89-----
1964"My Baby's Comin' Home"113-----
1969"Goodnight, My Love"272----
"In the Still of the Night"6436----
1971"Do I Love You"5314----
"Life Song"------
1973"While We're Still Young"------
"Hey Girl"------
1974"Let Me Get To Know You"8040----
"(You're) Having My Baby"**15-615-
"One Man Woman/One Woman Man"**75----
1975"I Don't Like To Sleep Alone"**88----
"(I Believe) There's Nothing Stronger Than Our Love"**153----
"Times of Your Life"71----
1976"Anytime (I'll Be There)"332----
"Make It Up To Me In Love"**-20----
1977"My Best Friend's Wife"8041----
"Everybody Ought To Be In Love"75-----
1978"Brought Up In New York (Brought Down in L.A.)"------
"This Is Love"353----
1979"As Long As We Keep Believing"-29----
1981"I've Been Waiting For You All Of My Life"4816----
"Think I'm in Love Again"------
"Lady Lay Down"------
1983"Hold Me 'Til the Mornin' Comes"402----
1984"Second Chance"-14----

* with George Hamilton IV and Johnny Nash
** with Odia Coates

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'New' Jackson song penned in 1983". BBC News. October 13, 2009. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Paul Anka Biography (1941-)". Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  3. ^ "Paul Albert Anka". lyricsfreak. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  4. ^ Syrian americans
  5. ^ "Paul Anka". City of Ottawa. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Paul Anka". History Of Rock. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  7. ^ Bush, John. Paul Anka: Biography at AllMusic. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  8. ^ "Canadian Charts from 1957 - 1986".  Retrieved November 26, 2006
  9. ^ "Gold & Platinum certification of albums at RIAA".  Retrieved November 26, 2006
  10. ^ "U.S Billboard chart rankings".  Retrieved November 26, 2006
  11. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-600-57602-0. 
  12. ^ "Billboard - Google Books". 1963-03-16. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 22. 
  14. ^ Serjeant, Jill (October 13, 2009). "UPDATE 2-New Michael Jackson single a mistake". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  15. ^ "CANOE - JAM! Music SoundScan Charts". Retrieved 2012-05-01. 
  16. ^ a b Hit Parade Italia. Indice per interprete: A. Anka Paul. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
  17. ^ a b Paul Anka Official Site. Discography. Import singles. Retrieved on 13 February 2009.
  18. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 170. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  19. ^ M. L. Fegiz: Duetto inedito con Paul Anka nella storia musicale di Celentano. Corriere Della Sera, 7 November 2006.
  20. ^ Paul Anka tells his amazing tale
  21. ^ "Paul Anka will always do it his way". 
  22. ^ Jutras, Catherine (August 26, 1972). "Ottawa honors Anka". Ottawa Citizen. p. 3. 
  23. ^ "Ottawa honors Anka". The Globe and Mail. July 17, 1981. p. 2. 
  24. ^ "Anka Passes Citizenship, Flunks No-parking Lesson". Orlando Sentinel. September 8, 1990. Retrieved December 7, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Lonely Boy". Documentary. National Film Board of Canada. 1962. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  26. ^ a b Q&A with music icon Paul Anka, Valerie Kellogg, PopMatters, November 14, 2008
  27. ^ "Paul Anka - '...the way it is.'". YouTube. 
  28. ^ "Monty Python's Flying Circus, Episode Twenty-three (transcripts) –". Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  29. ^ [1][dead link]
  30. ^ "They're slippin' 'em Paul Anka, dig?", Maureen Ryan, Chicago Tribune, February 11, 2006
  31. ^ Gilmore Girls: "The Real Paul Anka". The Internet Movie Database.
  32. ^ "Gilmore Girls: "The Real Paul Anka" (Transcript 127)". 2006-04-11. Retrieved 2012-08-06. 

External links[edit]