In 1957, A&R man Don Costa of ABC-Paramount Records received a lead sheet for Diana from a disc jockey in Toronto. He skimmed it and seeing potential requested a demo from the composer.
Anka, only 16 at the time, traveled from Ottawa to New York to hand-deliver Diana to Costa. He stayed in a suite with fellow Canadian musicians The Rover Boys at the President Hotel and slept in the bathtub for lack of space. During the day he wandered around the city, anxiously waiting until Costa had time to see him.
When they finally met, Anka settled behind the piano and played him a few of his songs, including Diana. Costa quickly called the other record executives into his office to listen. Impressed by the teenager’s confidence and exceptional talent, they offered him a record deal. Soon after, Anka’s father flew in from Ottawa to sign the necessary paperwork on his son’s behalf, as Anka was too young to sign them himself.
Diana was Anka’s first release with ABC-Paramount and earned #1 status on the Billboard chart for eighteen weeks. It went on to sell 20 million copies worldwide and become one of the most successful pop records in history, having reportedly been recorded over 300 times in 16 countries between 1957 and 1963.