He added "Diana" and "My Way" to the American Songbook.

Browse Song Catalog: BMI

Paul Anka


Songwriter, recording artist, actor, nightclub sensation; his career hit all the high notes.

* Paul Anka was also the 2008 recipient of The Johnny Mercer Award, the SHOF’s highest honor

The acclaimed songwriter, entertainer, and actor Paul Anka was only 16 when he emerged in 1957 from Ottawa, Canada, onto the international music market. His plaintive song "Diana" unleashed an imaginative new musical style into the pop mainstream and would go on to sell 20 million copies worldwide.

At a time when Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Motown groups dominated the rock n’ roll scene, Anka was giving a romantic voice to teenage concerns. His best-known titles of that early era included hits like “Put Your Head On My Shoulder,” “You Are My Destiny," "Lonely Boy" and "Puppy Love," which helped kick off Donny Osmond's career. By age 18, he had five Top 5 hits to his credit.

By the early sixties, Anka had become well established as a major new performing star and prolific songwriter. He was a frequent guest on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, through which he continued to expand his fan base. In 1962, he wrote what may well be the most played-on-the-air song in television history, "Johnny's Theme," which was the opening song for The Tonight Show. It was performed more than 1.4 million times during the Johnny Carson's 30-year run as host. The song earned him the Classic Contribution Award from BMI.

Anka also created music for film, and, at certain points, appeared on-screen as well. His soundtrack for The Longest Day, in which he also acted, won him an Academy Award nomination. He also wrote the themes for the films No Way Out and Atlantic City; and acted in 3000 Miles to Graceland, Mad Dog Days and Captain Ron.

Anka's songwriting activity has never tapered, and he's continued to address the theme of love head-on. His major hits of the seventies include "Having My Baby," "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone," "One Man Woman" and "The Times of Your Life." In 1983, Anka scored with another hit, "Hold Me 'Til the Morning Comes," which he co-wrote with David Foster.

Many notable musicians have recorded Anka's music, including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Connie Francis, Mitch Miller, Buddy Holly, Tom Jones, The Doobie Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, The Sex Pistols, Nina Simone, Gypsy Kings and Robbie Williams. The 1969 song, "My Way," which Anka adapted from the French ballad "Comme d'Habitude," may be Anka's most lasting musical legacy. Both Sinatra and Presley, in what would be his final single, recorded versions of the song, each iconic and influential in their own way.

Billboard also rated Anka one of the most successful artists in the history of the publication. He has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide (and 60 million copies of his compositions), had more than 150 million air plays and written more than 900 songs. Over the years, Anka has enjoyed substantial international popularity and has recorded albums in Japanese, German, Spanish, French and Italian. The French government named him a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters, which is France's most prestigious cultural award.

Anka continues to be a relevant and savvy pop icon. Rock Swings, his 2006 album, surprised his fans by covering songs by unexpected acts such as Nirvana (“Smells Like Teen Spirit”), Oasis (“Wonderwall”), R.E.M. (“Everybody Hurts”), Soundgarden (“Black Hole Sun”) and Billy Idol (“Eyes Without A Face”), as well as more mellow tunes like Lionel Richie's "Hello" and Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven." In 2013, Anka released Duets, which featured pairings with Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Michael Bublé, Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion and the late Michael Jackson.

Beyond his songwriting talents, Anka is recognized as one of the most successful and respected stars of the nightclub circuit, as well as on concert stages throughout the world. 

With a career that spans more than 60 years, he was honored with SHOF’s highest accolade, the Johnny Mercer Award, in 2008.