The autobiography "My Way " by legendary singer, songwriter and actor comes as a relief in the midst of the slew of biographies and autobiographies that deal with addiction (and more addiction complete with guts, cocks and gall) and the bad boy wanting to impress and outdo attitude. Paul Anka just isn't that guy. He's a gentle crooner with a controlling personality that has curated and crafted his career to the nth degree.
Born in 1941 in Canada the writer of Tom Jones' biggest hit "She's a Lady" was always a man for the music business; business being operative there. Anka's youth was spent in a small town where he loved hockey ("loved"), drew pictures, played with model airplanes and collected stamps. But, of course, like all great stars something propelled him out of his small comfortable life, out of the feeling of being suffocated. Anka lovingly recalls not having a method, or blueprint, to follow as with today's "American Idol" and sort of felt his way in the darkness as he brought his talent to America.
What turned Paul Anka into a star was his number 1 hit "Diana;" but his real talent wasn't in the numerous number one hits, his talent lay in the way he conducted himself - a businessman in the music industry and seemingly always a gentleman. He says he signed every check himself, believes in a "preventative lifestyle," and attributes his success to staying fit and keeping his eye on the ball.
But with success come some tribulations, and just as you think Paul Anka was totally perfect, the book reveals some moments of weakness and despair - moments of humanity. And so Anka's personal life features strongly in this autobiography starting with his marriage to then fashion model Anne de Zogheb with whom he had five daughters. His second marriage, more scandalous and juicy, was with Anna Aberg who was his personal trainer and with whom he had a son, and also features along some celebrity ladies whooping around him.
But what makes the man who he is; his relationship with the Rat Pack; his touring with Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry; or his success abroad? No, his marrow shows in moments of humility ("little guy about two feet taller than a fire hydrant") and his constant questioning of his merit and role in the world ("Was I supposed to last this long?") - that is what makes this Lebanese descendent a legend among men.
Paul Anka with David Dalton
St Martin's Press