Paul Anka at Ocean from Atlantic City on June 11; Bally’s improvements; Hard Rock goes with Van Gogh
From rotary phones to Studebakers to 30 cents a gallon gasoline, the list of things that existed in 1957 but no longer exist is staggering, to say the least. But there’s at least one thing 1957 and 2022 have in common: Legendary Singer Paul Ancawhich had its first hit single that year.
That means the native of Ottawa, Canada has spent part of eight decades in the public consciousness – a record that relatively few performers throughout history have been able to claim. Not just Anka, which on June 11 made the front page of Ocean Casino-Resort of Atlantic City, never saw it coming. Instead, he said in a recent phone conversation, his horizons — and long-term goals — were much more modest.
“You have to realize that all we wanted to do back then was meet the ‘Rat Pack’ and work in Vegas,” he said, referring to the collective name by which Frank Sinatra, dean martin and Sammy Davis Jr.. were known at the time. “That was it. We’re not considering anything.
“And the concern for all of us was, were we even going to last into the 60s?”
To that end, he continued, he “leaned into writing,” which he said would provide him with steady work if his singing career – which included landmark hits such as “Puppy Love ‘, ‘Diana’ and ‘Put Your Head On My Shoulder’—fade. “I felt like it had to be another five years, maybe I have to take it step by step. So there was really nothing to sit back and fantasize about, or cross your fingers and hope that you I can’t tell you that I imagined any of this.
Anka, who turns 81 on July 30, has had his fallow periods, including a career downturn following The Beatles‘ historic arrival in 1964. But he also had more than his share of triumphs: in addition to being named the 21st most successful recording artist of all time Billboard magazine, he composed the iconic theme song for the Johnny Carson-time The show tonightwrote the lyrics to Sinatra’s “My Way” (the music is taken from a French song called “Comme d’habitu”), had a surprise number one hit in 1974 with “You’re Have My Baby”, his first chart-topper in 15 years and discovered, and helped launch, the superstar crooner’s career Michel Buble. But one constant in Anka’s professional life has been Atlantic City.
Not only has it been a casino star since legal casinos arrived in Atlantic City in 1978, but it and the resort date back some 20 years before that. So, does he remember his first gig with AyCee?
“Yes, of course,” he replied when asked, identifying steel pier as the site of his local debut. At the time, Steel Pier was the city’s premier entertainment venue; its star attraction was the famous diving horsewhich would thrill the audience as it plunged from a platform into a pool of water.
“I refer to it on my show. We have pictures of it. It was my first concert and I loved it. I didn’t really like getting up at nine in the morning [to perform multiple daily shows] and smell that horse before you go out. But what a cool place it was.
Although he, like anyone who earns a paycheck performing in front of an audience, was forced to keep a low profile due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anka was anything but inactive during the involuntary hiatus. He has recorded two albums, last year’s Create memories and Sessionswhich will be released on July 1st and has been working on a PBS television special that debuts this month. And he has finally started pre-production on a long-planned documentary about his life and work which is being produced by the music industry powerhouse. Irving Azoff.
“We are now in the preliminary stage of hiring a director,” he offered. “It will take us, I think, a year or less to get there. So it took a long time, with the albums and the PBS stuff. But I like to work. That’s what I’ve been doing since I left home when I was 15.
Also on the program is a full list of concerts – in North America and around the world – that he has scheduled over the next 12 months. And he mentioned a possible Broadway project based on his life and music.
When asked about his secret to having the strength and stamina to maintain a pace that would exhaust someone half his age, he noted that he doesn’t smoke or drink hard liquor and follows a healthy diet.
The lyrics to “My Way” include these memorable words: Regrets, I had some. But again, too little to mention. So, what regrets could Paul Anka have?
“”You know the way I’ve existed all my life, I don’t live in the past and I don’t consider all of that to be regrets because I’ve had instances where I’ve looked back and just said, ‘Oh, I wish,’ he said. “But I really don’t like myself when I do that, because so many good things have happened to me.
“And when I look… at my life and I look at what I’ve accomplished and how blessed I’ve been, it’s really hard to look at the column of regrets.
“I lost my mother when I was 18 – she died of diabetes and I watched this whole process as a child, she took the [insulin] gunshots and all that, it was a big regret. And there were some regrets about people I knew that I shouldn’t have been with, you know, and maybe one of the wives.
“But I just don’t live that way. I’m just very positive. You can’t sit and talk about regret. You really can’t. You just have to keep an eye on a goal and keep doing what you’re doing. And if you’re lucky enough to keep doing what you’re doing, you’ve done it.
Big day at Bally’s
The people at The Atlantic town of Bally jumped on the holiday weekend Thursday by officially celebrating the completion of tens of millions of dollars in capital improvements to the downtown adult park.