Anka recorded his first single "I Confess" at age 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 who he hardly knew. The song, "Diana", brought Anka stardom as it rocketed to number one 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 made #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 and then, with Buddy Holly, he toured Australia. Anka also wrote "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" a song written for Buddy 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."
In the 1960s Anka began acting in motion pictures as well as writing songs for them, most notably the theme for the hit movie The Longest Day, in which he made a cameo appearance as a US Army Ranger. From his movie work, he wrote and recorded one of his greatest hits, "Lonely Boy" and also "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. Anka returns to Canada several times a year, regularly playing to sold out crowds at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls, Ontario in Canada. In 1960, he appeared twice as himself in NBC's short-lived crime drama Dan Raven, starring Skip Homeier and set on the Sunset Strip of West Hollywood.
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, Anka's career centered around mostly 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, Anka signed with United Artists and in 1974 teamed up with Odia Coates to record the number one 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 U.S. pop charts in 1976. The follow-up was another hit that Anka wrote for Sinatra, "Anytime (I'll Be There)", peaking at #33. Anka's final Top-40 hit in the U.S. to date was "Hold Me Til The Mornin' Comes", which included backing vocals from then-Chicago frontman Peter Cetera, in the summer of 1983, which also hit number two on the Hot Adult Contemporary charts.
His 1998 album A Body of Work was his first new U.S. studio release since Walk a Fine Line in 1983; vocals 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. On September 6, 1990, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 2005, his album of big-band arrangements of contemporary standards, Rock Swings, provided a mainstream comeback of sorts that saw Anka awarded a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto. Its large success prompted a follow-up (of sorts), Classic Songs: My Way, from 2007, which included more contemporary standards as well as duets with Michael Bublé and Jon Bon Jovi. Anka returned in 2011 with an album of Christmas songs, Songs of December, backed by a full orchestra.
Special tributes FROM A MODERN LEGEND, MICHAEL BUBLE'
"THE TIMES OF YOUR LIFE"
HITS IN PERFORMANCE
Be sure to check out our special music playlist for Mr. Anka on our "MUSIC! MUSIC!" page and link to it on spotify.com,
Also, check out Paul's very own website page, where you see and hear a lot more. Visit www.paulanka.com.
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