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Olivia Newton John Biography

Home > Music > J > John, Olivia Newton > Biography

Born: 1948/09/26
Birth Place: Cambridge, England
Years Active: 1963–present
Genres: Pop, Country Pop, Soft Rock

Olivia Newton-John AO, OBE (born September 26, 1948) is an English-born, Australian-raised singer and actress. Her music has been successful in multiple formats including pop, country and adult contemporary and has sold an estimated over 100 million albums worldwide. She co-starred with John Travolta in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical, “Grease,” which became one of the most successful films and movie soundtracks in Hollywood history.

Newton-John released her first solo album, “If Not For You,” in 1971. The title track, written by Bob Dylan and previously recorded by Beatle George Harrison for his 1970 album, “All Things Must Pass,” was her first international hit. Her follow-up single, “Banks of the Ohio,” was a Top 10 hit in England and Australia.

In the United States, Newton-John's career floundered after, “If Not For You.” Subsequent singles including “Banks of the Ohio” and remakes of George Harrison's “What Is Life” and John Denver's “Take Me Home, Country Roads” made minimal chart impact until the release of “Let Me Be There“ in 1973. The song reached the American Top 10 on the Pop, Country and AC charts and earned her a Grammy for Best Country Female and an Academy of Country Music award for Most Promising Female Vocalist. The album, “Let Me Be There,” charted at #1 on the Billboard Country Albums for two weeks as well as #54 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

The “Long Live Love” album was released in the United States as “If You Love Me, Let Me Know” featuring more country-oriented tracks intended to capitalize on the success of “Let Me Be There.” The title track was the first single reaching #5 Pop, #2 Country (her best country placement to date) and #2 Adult Contemporary. The next single, “I Honestly Love You,” became Newton-John's signature song. The ballad became her first #1 Pop, second #1 AC and third Top 10 Country hit and earned Newton-John two more Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance-Female. The success of both singles helped the album reach #1 on both the Pop and Country Albums charts.

Newton-John topped the Pop and Country Albums charts in 1975 with her album, “Have You Never Been Mellow.” The album generated two singles, the John Farrar penned title track and “Please Mr. Please.”

Newton-John's pop career cooled with the release of her next album, 1975’s “Clearly Love.” Her streak of five consecutive gold Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 ended when the album's first single, “Something Better To Do,” stopped at #13. Although her albums still achieved gold status, she did not return to the Top 10 on the Hot 100 or Billboard 200 charts again until 1978.

Newton-John's singles continued to easily top the AC chart, where she ultimately amassed ten #1 singles including a record seven consecutively, including “I Honestly Love You,” “Have You Never Been Mellow,” “Please Mr. Please,” “Something Better to Do,” “Let It Shine,” “He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother,” “Come on Over” and “Don't Stop Believin.'”

Newton-John's career soared after starring in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical, “Grease,” in 1978. “Grease” became the biggest box-office hit of 1978. The soundtrack spent 12 non-consecutive weeks at #1 and yielded three Top 5 singles for Newton-John, “You're The One That I Want,” “Hopelessly Devoted To You” and “Summer Nights.” She was also nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Musical and performed the Oscar-nominated “Hopelessly Devoted To You” at the 1979 Academy Awards.

Newton-John began 1980 by releasing “I Can't Help It,” a duet with Andy Gibb from his “After Dark” album. Later that year, she appeared in her first film since “Grease” starring in the musical “Xanadu.” Although the movie was a critical failure, its soundtrack was certified double platinum boasting five Top 20 singles on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1981, Newton-John released her most successful studio album, the double platinum “Physical.” The title track spent ten weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, matching the record of most weeks spent at #1 in the rock era. The single was certified platinum and it ultimately ranked as the biggest song of the decade. “Physical” even earned Newton-John her only placement ever on the R&B Singles and Albums charts.

The success of “Physical” led to an international tour and the release of her second hits collection, the double platinum “Olivia's Greatest Hits Vol. 2,” which yielded two more Top 40 singles, “Heart Attack” and “Tied Up.”

Newton-John has been a long-time activist for environmental and animal rights issues. Since surviving breast cancer in 1992, she has been an advocate for health awareness becoming involved with various charities, health products and fundraising efforts. Her business interests have included launching several product lines for Koala Blue and co-owning the Gaia Retreat & Spa in Australia.

She continues releasing albums focusing on pop, country and adult contemporary styles. She is a four-time Grammy award winner who has amassed five #1 and ten other Top Ten Billboard Hot 100 singles and two #1 Billboard 200 solo albums. Eleven of her singles, including two platinum, and 14 of her albums, including two platinum and four double platinum, have been certified gold by the RIAA.