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Paul Anka Biography

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Birth Name: Paul Albert Anka
Born: 1941/07/30
Birth Place: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Years Active: 1955–present
Genres: Pop, Jazz, Soft Rock, Doo-wop

Paul Anka was born July 30, 1941 in Ottawa, Canada and is a singer, songwriter, and actor. 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.

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. The song “Diana” brought Anka stardom as it rocketed to #1 on the Canadian and U.S. music charts. “Diana” is one of the best-selling singles ever by a Canadian recording artist. He followed up with four songs that made it into the Top 20 in 1958, 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.

Anka's talent included penning 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 U.S. 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, Anka signed with RCA Victor, 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 Coatesto 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 on the Billboard 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 with “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.

His 1998 album, “A Body of Work,” was his first new U.S. studio release since, “Walk a Fine Line,” in 1983. Guest 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.

In 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. An additional song that Jackson co-wrote with Anka from this 1983 session, “Love Never Felt So Good,” was discovered shortly thereafter. Anka’s album “Songs of December” charted at #58 in Canada in November 2011.