Born July 30, 1941, in Ottawa into a tight-knit Canadian family, Paul Anka didn’t waste much time getting his life in music started. He sang in the choir at Church and studied piano. He honed his writing skills with journalism courses, even working for a spell at the Ottawa Citizen. By 13, he had his own vocal group, the Bobbysoxers. He performed at every amateur night he could get to in his mother’s car, unbeknownst to her of course. Soon after, he won a trip to New York by winning a Campbell’s soup contest for IGA Food Stores that required him to spend three months collecting soup can labels. It was there his dream was solidified, he was going to make it as a singer composer; there was not a doubt in his young tenacious mind.
Anka’s two most recent albums – Rock Swings and now Classic Songs, My Way – ingeniously featured songs originally created by some of the biggest rock performers of the day – as well as other established artists across several genres. The twist: Paul Anka did the songs ‘his way.’ His goal: “taking great songs and rework them so they’re natural for me.” With the help of his five daughters, Anka spent months researching music from the ‘80s and ‘90s, trying to find the songs that would work in the radical new context he proposed. The songs that made the cut included Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life,” Lionel Richie’s “Hello” and Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.” Even more dramatic were his transformations of “Wonderwall” by Oasis, “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Rock Swings went Top 10 in the UK, and was certified gold in the UK, France, and Canada, hit No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums chart and went on to sell half a million units worldwide.