AARP Eye Center
Anka recorded his first No. 1 single, "Diana," in 1957 when he was just 15, the same age Bieber was in 2009 when he released his first hit, "One Time." They share a birthplace, too: Ontario, Canada.
"There's always been screaming girls, you know?" Anka says when asked to compare himself with the increasingly troubled teen idol. He has followed Bieber's career, but worries about the constant media attention that accompanies young stars. He's glad he shot to fame decades earlier.
AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.
"There are too many people coming from left and right at these kids, and I don't know that they can handle it," he says. "Along with the success there's going to be some rejection, some failure. I learned more in my work from my failure, not my success, and I don't know that they're doing that. These kids fall apart."
Bieber would do well to listen to Anka. As showbiz storytellers go, the guy is tough to beat. His string of big hits, including "Puppy Love" and "Put Your Head on My Shoulder," began when he was a teen; by mid-career, he settled in as a headliner in Las Vegas and tagged along with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.
Anka has penned some of the most famous pop songs of all time, for artists as diverse as Buddy Holly and Michael Jackson. And he's about to be red-hot again: His new autobiography, My Way, and new album, Duets, hit stores this April. (See a video at the bottom of this page about Anka's duet with Michael Bublé.) His summer tour begins in May.
"I've lived a life, that's for sure," Anka says, with the knowing chuckle of a man whose career has bridged two centuries.
Here, in his words and ours, are 10 facts of that life you may be surprised to learn.
1. At 16, he joined the "Biggest Show of Stars" tour with the likes of Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry. He wrote a song for Holly, "It Doesn't Matter Anymore," just before the singer died in a plane crash. It was a posthumous hit. Anka gave his royalties from the song to Holly's widow.