Isn’t it amazing how Paul Anka once turned a crush on an older girl into a breakthrough hit, “Diana”?
Recorded in 1957 at Don Costa studio in New York City, the song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Best Sellers In Stores chart and climbed no higher than No. 2 on Billboard′s composite Top 100 chart. “Diana” also hit No. 1 on the R&B Best Sellers chart.
But in the United Kingdom, the song soared well as it topped the UK’s New Musical Express chart for an impressive nine weeks. After it was first released in America, a European record distributor heard the song in a New York record store and arranged for the song to be issued in that region, and proved to be immensely popular.
“My record has a Semitic sound to it, like a chant. It gives my records a European feel,” Anka said. He was the first teenager to have a million-seller in the United Kingdom; he was only sixteen when it was charted.
After signing with RCA Records, Anka recorded “Diana” once again, along with several other hits in 1963, off his album Paul Anka’s 21 Golden Hits.
How Anka Turned A Crush Into A Hit Song
Paul Anka was only fifteen years old when he wrote, “Diana.” As stated in his autobiography, the song was inspired by a girl named Diana Ayoub, whom he had met at his church, and had developed a crush on.
“She was a little out of my league,” Anka said. “She really didn’t want anything to do with me, which made it even worse.” She was also five years older than him.
Anka and Ayoub did not cross paths all that often. He would only see her at church and some other community events, babysitting his younger brother and sister every so often. That crush did not go anywhere, just merely an unrequited love, but the song did as it topped several charts and launched Anka’s career.
Anka and his family then moved from Ottawa, Canada, to New Jersey, where they set up a publishing and management operation to support Anka’s career. Anka quickly became one of his generation’s biggest hitmakers, being one of the few teenagers who wrote and recorded songs about teenage love as early as the ’50s. Several hits of the era were written by experienced and skilled songwriters who were much older.
As for the muse of Anka’s song, it is said that the crooner has never reconnected with her. In 2002, it was reported by the Ottawa Globe And Mail that Diana Ayoub had two children, got divorced, and managed a dress shop in the city.
“I’m so young, and you’re so old. This, my darling, I’ve been told. I don’t care just what they say, ’cause forever I will pray. You and I will be as free as the birds up in the trees. Oh, please stay by me, Diana,” the song goes.
Check out Paul Anka’s powerful performance of “Diana” below.