For generations, girls have inspired boys to write love songs. For Paul Anka, it was a girl 5 years older who wanted nothing to do with him.
The song he wrote about Diana Ayoub, released July 2, 1957, became his breakthrough hit. He wrote it when he was 15.
Anka wrote in his autobiography that Ayob was, “.. a little out of my league.” The fact that she didn’t return his affection, “.. made it even worse.” She baby sat Anka’s younger siblings and he sometimes crossed paths with her at St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral where he sang in the choir. His crush was destined to be unrequited. But the tune Diana Ayob inspired became Anka’s first number one, launching his career.
Ayoub and Anka didn’t cross paths all that often; he would see her at church and some other functions, and she would sometimes babysit his younger brother and sister.
The crush didn’t go anywhere, but the song did. It hit #1 in the US and UK, launching his career. Anka and his family relocated to New Jersey from Ottawa, Canada to set up the operation that would support his career.
One of the few teenage idols who wrote his own hits, Anka went on to have 63 singles chart as an artist. As a writer he penned the English lyrics for Frank Sinatra’s signature tune, “My Way” wrote “She’s a Lady” which became a smash for singer Tom Jones and famously received royalties as the composer of the theme for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
The CBC Archives record that Diana Ayoub served as president of the Paul Anka Fan Club of Ottawa, Chapter 26, with a a membership of 293 in 1958. he Ottawa Globe And Mail reported that she later married, had two children, divorced and managed a dress shop.
Anka’s hit is also said to have inspired royalty. The London Daily Express reported an interview with Anka where the singer said, “A very dear friend of the princess was Diana Dare, wife of the photographer Terence Donovan. It was she who told my wife that Diana’s mother liked the song, and so she was named after it.” It’s a tabloid tale. so it’s authenticity may be suspect. But there’s no doubt that Anka’s first major hit is still popular with fans 64 years after he first released it.
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Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit