Johnny Mercer Award

Paul Anka

Paul Anka will be this year’s recipient of the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at the 2008 Awards dinner. The Johnny Mercer Award is exclusively reserved for a songwriter who has already been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in a prior year, and whose body of work is of such high quality and impact, that it upholds the gold standard set by the legendary Johnny Mercer. Past Johnny Mercer Award recipients have included songwriting giants: Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Billy Joel, Jimmy Webb, Hal David, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Paul Simon, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Stephen Sondheim, Cy Coleman, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.

“Paul Anka’s classic songs have a universal and timeless appeal, and his enduring ingenuity and integrity as an artist and performer are greatly respected and admired by his peers and fans alike,” commented Chairman/CEO Hal David. “The Songwriters Hall of Fame is proud to bestow our prestigious Johnny Mercer Award upon this celebrated luminary of popular music.”

As Paul Anka enters his 50th year in the music business, he has forged an impressive career that has endured. Anka has had a song on Billboard’s charts in every decade since 1957, when the Ottawa-born talent was only 17. Since then, he has recorded over 120 albums in a wide variety of languages, selling close to 50 million worldwide and landing three No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 – “Diana,” “Lonely Boy” and “(You’re) Having My Baby.” The first of those hits reportedly sold 10 million copies worldwide, with only the perennial standard “White Christmas” topping it. Over the years, many artists have had him to thank for their extraordinary hits. His 900-song catalog includes such titles as “She’s a Lady” (Tom Jones), “Puppy Love” (Donny Osmond), “It Doesn’t Matter Any More” (Buddy Holly) and “Teddy” (Connie Francis). The theme he wrote for The Tonight Show was heard every night by millions of Johnny Carson fans, and one of his proudest accomplishments was writing the Academy Award-nominated theme for The Longest Day, the 1962 film in which he also starred. 

Songwriting and performing “are what gave me the confidence to keep going,” he says. Becoming a junior associate of Sinatra and the Rat Pack also had its privileges. By the ‘70s, the success of “My Way,” and a string of hits like “(You’re) Having My Baby,” confirmed his status as an icon of popular music. His later achievements as a recording artist included “Hold Me ‘Til the Morning Comes,” a hit duet with Peter Cetera in 1983, the Spanish-language album Amigos in 1996, and Body of Work, a 1998 duets album that featured Frank Sinatra, Celine Dion, Patti LaBelle, Tom Jones and daughter Anthea Anka.

Paul Anka has also donned a producer’s hat at times; in 2003, he served as the executive producer on the self-titled debut album by Michael Bublé, with the Vancouver singer performing Anka’s “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” on his multi-platinum-selling disc.

On Anka’s recent album Classic Songs, Michael Bublé and Jon Bon Jovi join him on Anka’s 1958 hit “You Are My Destiny” and “My Way,” respectively. Rock Swings, also recently released, went Top 10 in the UK, and was certified gold in the UK, France, and Canada, hit No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums chart and went on to sell half a million units worldwide.