Author photo

By Steven Lieberman
Observer Reporter 

Its R&B time in Beverly Hills with some big hitters like Debarge,Mills and Paul Anka

 

February 2, 2023

El DeBarge

Two big concerts are coming to the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.

Internationally-famous singer/songwriter Paul Anka will need no introduction when he takes the stage on February 4th to sing all of his greatest hits.

In 1957, when Anka was a 16 year old teenager, his first number one hit, "Diana," made him a star. Soon after, he hopped on the "Cavalcade of Stars" bus with top names of the day in the era of segregation, performing at the Copa Cabana, the youngest entertainer ever to do so, and honing his craft surrounded by the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Frankie Lyman, and Chuck Berry.

"They are all very autobiographical," says Anka about his early hits. "I was alone, traveling, girls screaming, and I never got near them. I'm a teenager and feeling isolated and all that. That becomes (his song) 'Lonely Boy.' At record hops, I'm up on stage and all these kids are holding each other with heads on each other's shoulders. Then I have to go have dinner in my room because there are thousands of kids outside the hotel -- 'Put Your Head on My Shoulder' was totally that experience."

By the time the Beatles arrived in the sixties, Anka luckily had another tool in his survival kit. Many artists didn't survive the Beatles era. "After a few hits, I knew I was a writer, and with writers, the power was always in the pen," he said. "When I started writing for Buddy Holly and Connie Francis, I felt that it made me different for people -- they'd say, 'Hey, you can write, you can fall back on something."

Becoming a junior associate of Sinatra and the Rat Pack also had its privileges. By the '70's, the success of "My Way," a song he wrote for Sinatra, and a string of hits like "(You're) Having My Baby" confirmed his status as an icon of popular music. His other achievements -- the theme for The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, Tom Jones big hit, "She's a Lady," and "Hold Me 'Til the Morning Comes," a duet with Peter Cetera in 1983, among many others.

In 1998, Anka's album, "Body of Work," featured duets with Sinatra, Celine Dion, Patti LaBelle, and Tom Jones.

It was revealed upon its release in 2009, that Anka also co-wrote Michael Jackson's posthumous number one worldwide hit, "This is It," which has further cemented his place upon the most prolific and versatile songwriters of any generation.

And now, you can add author to his list of accomplishments and read his book, "My Way: An Autobiography."

And then, on Valentine's Day, February 14th, Stephanie Mills and El DeBarge make an appearance.

Stephanie Mills first came to fame as "the little girl with the big voice" as the star of the hit Broadway play, The Wiz, an adaptation of L. Frank Baum's classic book, The Wizard of Oz.

Paul Anka Photo

She had many R&B hits along with one certified, million-selling single, "Never Knew Love Like This Before."

Mills also had five gold albums, including If I Were Your Woman.

El DeBarge was the focal point and primary lead singer of the family group DeBarge.

Among many of their big hits was his anthem, "Rhythm of the Night."

As a solo artist, he is best known for his unique high tenor register, strong falsetto and hits like "Who's Johnny" and "Love Always."

As a five-time Grammy Award nominee, he has also collaborated with artists such as Dionne Warwick, Quincy Jones, and Tone Loc.

For more information and to buy tickets, go to: wheremusicmeetsthesoul.com

 

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