Paul Albert Anka, OC (born July 30, 1941, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) is a Lebanese-Canadian singer and songwriter.
He began singing as a child, first starting in the St Elijah Syriac Orthodox Church choir in Ottawa. As a student at Ottawa’s Fisher Park High School he was part of a trio called the Bobby Soxers.
Encouraged by his parents, at age 14 he recorded his first single, I Confess. In 1957 he went to New York City where he auditioned for ABC, singing a lovestruck verse he had written to a former babysitter, Diana Ayoub. The song, Diana, brought Anka instant stardom as it rocketed to number one on the charts. Diana is one of the best selling 45s in music history. He followed up with four songs that made it into the Top 20 in 1958, making him one of the biggest teen idols of the time. He toured Britain and then, with Buddy Holly, toured Australia.
His talent went beyond singing, writing Buddy Holly’s giant hit, It Doesn’t Matter Anymore, the theme for Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, Tom Jones’ biggest hit record, She’s A Lady, and the English lyrics for My Way, Frank Sinatra’s signature song and sung by many well known artists, including Greta Keller, for whom the words were very fitting.
In the 1960s, Anka would begin 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 his monster hit, Lonely Boy. He then went on to become one of the first pop singers to perform at the Las Vegas casinos.
After more than ten years without a hit record, in 1974 he teamed up with Odia Coates to record the number 1 hit, Having My Baby. They would record two more duets that both made it into the Top 10. In 1975, he wrote a jingle for Kodak called The Times of Your Life. The jingle became so popular, he recorded it as a full song, The Times Of Your Life, and it became a hit a year later.
By the 1970s, Anka’s career centered around adult contemporary and big-band standards, played regularly in Las Vegas. On September 6, 1990, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He returned to his home town to buy a part of the Ottawa Senators hockey team.
In 1999 he visited Lebanon for sell-out performances at the Forum de Beyrouth (The Beirut Forum).
Paul Anka was elected to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1980. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6840 Hollywood Blvd. In 1991, the Government of France honored him with the title “Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters”. He was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 2005.
On the WB show Gilmore Girls, Lorelai named her new dog Paul Anka. He also made a guest appearance as himself in the episode “The Real Paul Anka”, which aired April 11, 2006.
Paul Anka recently did a live session on Live @ The Orange Lounge playing songs from his new cover-CD Rock Swings.
Notable rap artist Jay-Z featured his vocals on the track I Did It My Way on The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse in 2002.
He became infamous amongst musicians (and more recently to internet users) for a mid-70’s after-show tirade which was secretly recorded by a “snake we later fired” (Anka: Fresh Air interview). The diatribe, in which Anka berates his crew and band members, has spawned a number of in-joke references and quotations, the main ones being: “The guys get shirts”, “Where’s Joe?”, and “Slice like a hammer.”
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