“The Anka Sings Sinatra tour will honor a great artist who has influenced me more than anyone else throughout my career: Frank Sinatra. It will also feature the hits that have spanned my career on this 60th anniversary year. It will be a night filled with his songs, my songs, my way!” —Paul Anka
Paul Anka was born on July 30, 1941, in Ottawa, Canada. From an early age, he sang in a choir and studied piano. He even honed his writing skills as a journalist, working as a cub reporter for the Ottawa Citizen. By 13, he had his own vocal group, The Bobbysoxers, and would take his mother’s car and drive to perform at every amateur night he could across the river in Quebec.
In 1956, Anka convinced his parents to let him travel to Los Angeles to visit his uncle. There, he hitchhiked to a meeting with Modern Records that led to the release of Anka’s first single, “Blau-Wile Deveest Fontaine.” Although it was not a hit, Anka kept plugging away. He went so far as to sneak into Fats Domino’s dressing room in Ottawa, where Anka sang to both Domino and Chuck Berry. They told him to stay in school.
Anka scored a meeting with Don Costa, the A&R representative for ABC-Paramount Records, in 1957. Costa was enthusiastic about the potential of the young singer/songwriter. Soon, Anka had his first number one hit — “Diana” — at the young age of 15. He further honed his craft surrounded by the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Frankie Lymon, and Chuck Berry, taveling across the country by bus with the “Cavalcade of Stars.” He was the youngest entertainer to ever perform at the Copacabana.
Anka knew being a songwriter meant that power was in the pen. He went on to write for Connie Francis, Leslie Gore, and Buddy Holly. Other hit songs include the Academy Award-nominated theme for the 1962 film The Longest Day, in which he also starred. He also penned the longest-running theme song in television history for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Anka says songwriting and performing “are what gave me the confidence to keep going.” In the early 60’s, he became a junior associate of Sinatra and the Rat Pack, and soon wrote one of Sinatra’s biggest hits, “My Way.”
His later achievements as a recording artist included the 1983 charted song “Hold Me ‘Til the Morning Comes,” a duet with Peter Cetera. 1998 brought Body of Work, a duets album that featured Frank Sinatra, Celine Dion, Tom Jones, and his daughter, Anthea Anka.
Anka released his New York Times-bestselling autobiography, My Way, in 2013. It is a remarkable story of a decades-long career as an entertainer, actor, and songwriter.
PAUL ANKA SINGS SINATRA: HIS SONGS, MY SONGS, MY WAY
Where: Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House | 2403 Flora St.
When: Tues. Sept. 17, 7:30pm
Cost: $49.50 – $129.50