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Paul Anka: Once A Teen Idol, Now A Classic

Paul Anka wrote the theme song for <em>The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,</em> ensuring that his music was heard by millions on a regular basis.
Volker Hartmann
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Paul Anka wrote the theme song for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, ensuring that his music was heard by millions on a regular basis.

Paul Anka has one of the century's most enduring music careers. While most teen idols from the 1950s and 1960s faded into obscurity, Anka is still putting out albums and performing to sold-out crowds.

Last month, the singer-songwriter was awarded the 2008 Johnny Mercer Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Anka began his career at age 14 and skyrocketed to fame at the age of 16 with the hit single "Diana," one of the best-selling 45-rpm record singles in music history.

The Canadian-American singer also wrote a number of pop classics, including Frank Sinatra's "My Way" and Tom Jones' most popular hit "She's A Lady."

His album Rock Swings features his own takes on more contemporary classics — including Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and Van Halen's "Jump."

Anka also had an acting career and was one of the first pop singers to perform in Las Vegas.

This interview was originally broadcast Aug. 8 and 10, 2005.

Copyright 2023 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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