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Anka, Paul

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Anka, Paul, late 1950s teen star who later made it big as a pop singer/composer; b. Ottawa, Can., July 30, 1941. One of the more sophisticated performers and songwriters to come out of the 1950s, Paul Anka scored a number of hits with his own compositions while still a teenager, beginning with 1957’s “Diana.” He ultimately sold more than 100 million records and, like a number of teen idols, quickly switched his attention to the nightclub and cabaret circuit. He subsequently pursued a career as a songwriter, composing over 400 songs, including the English lyrics to “My Way,” adopted by Frank Sinatra as his theme song, and “The Tonight Show Theme.” During the mid 1970s, Anka relocated to Las Vegas and enjoyed renewed popularity with several huge pop and easy-listening hits.

Raised in Canada, Paul Anka first performed in public at the age of 12. Traveling to Hollywood in 1956, he recorded his first—albeit unsuccessful—single, “I Confess” for Modern/RPM Records. In the spring of 1957, at the age of 15, Anka auditioned a song for Don Costa of ABC- Paramount Records in N.Y. that would become one of the biggest selling singles of the 1950s: “Diana.” Signed to the label, Anka hit the pop charts consistently over the next three years with compositions that often reflected the simple, even naive, but nonetheless poignant concerns of teenagers. His best-remembered smash hits of the period include “You Are My Destiny,” “Lonely Boy” (also a smash R&B hit), “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” “Puppy Love,” and “My Home Town.”

Paul Anka first performed in Las Vegas in 1959 and became the youngest performer to star at N.Y.‘s Copa-cabana nightclub in 1960. He also appeared in several movies, most notably 1962’s The Longest Day (for which he also wrote the theme song), and switched to RCA Records by the beginning of 1962. No longer making the charts after 1963, Anka continued to perform on the nightclub circuit, including lucrative engagements in Las Vegas. Having written songs for others beginning in 1958 with “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” for Buddy Holly, Anka concentrated on his songwriting. Subsequently, his “Tonight Show Theme” became one of his most profitable compositions; yet his English lyrics to the French ballad “Comme d’Habitude”—under the new name, “My Way”—in 1969 became perhaps his best-known song and Frank Sinatra’s theme song. An-ka’s “She’s a Lady” became a smash hit for Tom Jones in 1971.

Paul Anka re-established himself as a recording artist in 1974-75 on United Artists Records beginning with the top hit “(You’re) Having My Baby,” recorded with Odia Coates, with whom he toured for several years. Other near-smash hits of the era included “One Man Woman/One Woman Man” (with Coates), “I Don’t Like to Sleep Alone,” and “Times of Your Life,” a top easy-listening hit. Following this brief flourish, Anka continued to write, record, tour, and appear in an occasional television show or movie.

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