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Paul Anka's Savannah concert canceled


Paul Anka's Savannah concert canceled

20 Jun 2017

Updated June 22: According to the Savannah Civic Center's website, due to unforeseen circumstances, Paul Anka’s performance scheduled for June 25 has been canceled. Refunds can be obtained at point of purchase. Those who purchased directly through the Savannah Civic Center Box Office or via credit card will see their purchase price refunded automatically. More info at

Do's original interview:

Meeting fans and performing for them — that’s Paul Anka’s secret for eternal youth.

“People really make the difference,” the 75-year-old singer/songwriter/actor says. “It’s like a love fest. They make you so comfortable.

“They’re emotional, physically grabbing and touching and kissing. Their reactions are very flattering.

“Without that, I wouldn’t be doing it,” Anka says. “When you get to that place in life, that’s the best, that’s real success. It’s not predicated on the position you hold, it’s how you carry yourself in that position.”

Decades of music

On June 25, Anka will perform at Johnny Mercer Theatre in the Savannah Civic Center. He brings with him an incredible 60-plus years of experience in the entertainment business.

Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Anka is famous for such hits as “Diana,” “Lonely Boy,” “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” and “(You’re) Having My Baby.”

He wrote hits for other performers, including the lyrics for Frank Sinatra’s signature song “My Way,” “This Is It” with Michael Jackson and Tom Jones’ biggest hit, “She’s a Lady.” Anka also wrote the theme for “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

At a young age, Anka sang with his church’s choir and studied piano and music theory. He was just 14 when he recorded his first single, “I Confess.”

In 1957, Anka went to New York City, where he auditioned at ABC with his song “Diana.” It soon became his first No. 1 hit, and is one of the best-selling singles ever produced by a Canadian recording artist.

In 1958, when he was just 17, Anka had four songs in the Top 20. He was considered a teen idol by his adoring fans.

The writing bug

It was a love of writing that propelled Anka into a musical career.

“I was winning awards for poems and short stories I wrote, and I was a cub reporter,” he says. “… I turned it into music and it solidified for me. I knew I had a passion for music from age 13.

“I kind of had some odd jobs along the way, but I wanted to sing and write,” Anka says. “The music classes I took enhanced what I was feeling.”

Fame at such an early age might have been disastrous for anyone else, but Anka stayed centered.

“You knew you had a life-changing dynamic,” he says. “When you’re in the middle of that, when it hits you, you do everything to keep it under control.

“You’re hoping one day to get wise enough to deal with it,” Anka says. “I kept my nose clean because they wanted me to.”

The Mob

In his early 20s, Anka found himself working for the Mafia in Las Vegas.

“That was pretty life-changing,” he says. “It was bizarre. The reason was because I couldn’t work anywhere else.

“The Mob controlled the record business, the nightclubs. They never gave me any problems.

“They were gentlemen,” Anka says. “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. I never felt afraid or anything like that.”

Anka stayed focused on writing and recording and furthering his career.

“If you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there,” he says. “I was trying to get my mileage.

“The writing set me apart from all those other kids. I knew I could always fall back on the joy I got from writing.

“And joy from hearing my music played gave me confidence,” Anka says. “The writing and creativity kept me going.”

Adding acting gigs

In the 1960s, Anka added film acting to his resume. He not only appeared in “The Longest Day,” he also wrote its theme song.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Anka starred in “Girls Town” and “Look in Any Window.” In 1992, he was in “Captain Ron” and in 2001, “3,000 Miles to Graceland.”

“I started acting very young,” Anka says. “I felt I could do it. I didn’t know how long it was going to last, but I wanted to try it. It worked out pretty good.

“It was all part of my dream,” he says. “I just kept going with it.”

Over the years, Anka has appeared in numerous television dramas and comedies. He was the namesake of Lorelai’s dog in “Gilmore Girls” and made an appearance in a dream sequence in which both the dog Paul Anka and the real Paul Anka interacted.

One of Anka’s most memorable experiences as a performer was the first time he appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

“It was the show that really launched me,” Anka says. “’Ed Sullivan’ was the show everyone watched every Sunday with their family.”

Back on tour

The current tour will start with concerts throughout the South.

“We’re starting in Biloxi and going to Atlanta and Savannah, then we’re going to take time off,” Anka says. “We start again in August and go through September and October and November.

“I used to get tired of travel, then I cut it down to the way I want in terms of what I want,” he says. “I don’t really overcrowd myself.”

For the upcoming concert, tickets to the pit seats allow audience members to attend a meet-and-greet session with Anka and take photos. This is his first performance at the civic center.

“I came through Savannah when I was a kid doing rock ‘n’ roll shows with The Platters and Fats Domino, but I haven’t been there in years,” Anka says.

In his career, Anka has known both success and controversy. His hit song, “Having My Baby,” is an example.

“’Having My Baby’ was ahead of its time,” Anka says. “I tested it with DJs and friends and they said, ‘Never play that song.’”

The song was released in 1974, just a year after the Roe vs. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision legalized abortion.

“It was part of the Women’s Movement,” Anka says. “What most people objected to was my saying having ‘my’ baby instead of ‘our’ baby.

“Time and other magazines came out and said, ‘Why are you persecuting him? It’s a song he wrote for his wife.’

“But it was a popular song,” he says. “The controversy propelled it to No. 1.”

Retirement is far away

While Anka has many plans for the future, retiring isn’t one of them.

“You want to work, you want to stay active,” Anka says. “It’s about not stopping. I feel young.

“It frightens me to think about what I’d do if I had to stop,” he says. “I found with all my friends, when they quit, they just died. Things happened to them and that was it. Like Sinatra.”

Anka wants to keep performing because he loves it.

“You’re not working for the money,” he says. “If you work just for money, you’ll never make it. If you love what you’re doing and look at the audience and put them first in your life, that’s success.”

The music industry has changed in six decades, and not always for the better.

“The technology has changed,” Anka says. “People are dependent on technology.

“And there are so many types of music and performers. There is too much, and it’s too overbearing.

“You’ve got your niche, they listen,” he says. “The older vintage acts are the only ones doing business, the niche I’m in.”

The author of the book, “My Way: An Autobiography,” Anka also has a new album, “Duets.” It features duets with Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, Michael Buble, Celine Dion and more.

“If anyone says to me they’re thinking of retiring, they already have,” Anka says. “For me, no.

“We’re living in a day and age where people realize if they’re capable of doing something, whatever age bracket, they should continue to do it. Listen to doctors; they’ll tell you to stay active.

“If I retired, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself,” he says. “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”

There’s a much bigger reward than money, Anka says.

“My audience gives it back to me,” he says. “As long as it stays the way it is, what an easy job it is. It’s wonderful.”