Olivia Newton-John, AO, OBE (born September 26 1948) is a Grammy Award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated English-born, Australian pop singer, songwriter and actress of Welsh and German origin. She is an avid activist for both environmental issues and breast cancer awareness. Her business interests have included launching several product lines for Koala Blue and opening the Gaia Retreat and Spa in Australia.
Newton-John recorded her first single, "Till You Say You'll Be Mine" b/w "Forever," for England's Decca Records in 1966. Newton-John was homesick in England because she missed Australia and her then-boyfriend, Ian Turpie, with whom she co-starred in an independently produced Australian telefilm, Funny Things Happen Down Under. Her mother cancelled trips back to Australia that Newton-John would repeatedly book. Newton-John's outlook changed when Pat Carroll also moved to England. The two formed a duo and toured nightclubs in Europe until Carroll's visa expired, forcing her to return to Australia. Newton-John remained in England to pursue solo work.
Newton-John was recruited for the group "Toomorrow"—the brainchild of American producer Don Kirshner, creator of The Monkees. The group recorded an album and starred in a "science fiction musical" film both named after the group released in 1970. The project failed, and the group was quickly disbanded.
In 1974, Newton-John represented the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song, "Long Live Love." The song was chosen for her by the British public. Newton-John placed fourth at the contest in Brighton behind ABBA's winning "Waterloo." (Newton-John would later admit that she disliked the song.) All six song candidates for the contest were recorded by Newton-John and included on her Long Live Love album, her first for the EMI label. In North America, this album was released by MCA as If You Love Me, Let Me Know, with the six Eurovision songs dropped for four different, more-country-oriented tracks to capitalize on the success of "Let Me Be There." The title track was the first single, reaching No. 5 Pop, No. 2 Country (her best country placement ever), and No. 2 AC. The next single, "I Honestly Love You," became Newton-John's signature song. Written by Jeff Barry and Peter Allen, the ballad became her first No. 1 Pop (two weeks) and second No. 1 AC (three weeks) hit and earned Newton-John two more Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Pop Female. The success of both singles helped the album reach No. 1 on both the Pop (one week) and Country (eight weeks) Albums charts.
Newton-John's country success was reviled by purists who believed a foreigner singing country-flavored pop music did not belong in country music. In addition to her Grammy for "Let Me Be There," Newton-John was also named the Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year in 1974, defeating nominees Loretta Lynn, Canadian Anne Murray, Dolly Parton, and Tanya Tucker. Newton-John's win outraged many country artists, leading to the formation of the short-lived Association of Country Entertainers (ACE). Newton-John was eventually supported by most in the country music community. Stella Parton, Dolly's sister, recorded "Ode To Olivia," and Newton-John recorded her 1976 album Don't Stop Believin', in Nashville.
Encouraged by expatriate Australian singer Helen Reddy, Newton-John left England and moved to the United States. Newton-John topped the Pop (one week) and Country (six weeks) Albums charts with her next album, Have You Never Been Mellow. The album generated two singles—the title track (No. 1 Pop, No. 3 Country, No. 1 AC) and "Please Mr. Please" (No. 3 Pop, No. 5 Country, No. 1 AC). Newton-John's pop career cooled with the release of her next album, Clearly Love. Her streak of five consecutive gold Top 10 singles ended when the album's first single, "Something Better To Do," stopped at No. 13 (also No. 19 Country and No. 1 AC). Although her albums still achieved gold status, she did not return to the Top 10 on the Hot 100 or Pop Albums charts again until 1978.
Newton-John's singles continued to easily top the AC chart, where she ultimately amassed ten No. 1 singles including a record seven consecutive:
She also provided a prominent, but uncredited, vocal on John Denver's "Fly Away" single, which was succeeded by her own single, "Let It Shine/He Ain't Heavy...He's My Brother," at No. 1 on the AC chart. Newton-John also continued to reach the Country Top 10, where she tallied seven Top 10 singles through 1976's "Come On Over" (No. 23 Pop, No. 5 Country, No. 1 AC) and six consecutive (of a career nine total) Top 10 albums through 1976's Don't Stop Believin' (No. 30 Pop, No. 7 Country). She headlined her first U.S. television special, A Special Olivia Newton-John, in November 1976.
By mid-1977, Olivia's AC and country success also began to wane. Her Making a Good Thing Better album (No. 34 Pop, No. 13 Country) failed to be certified gold, and its only single, the title track, did not reach even the AC Top 10 or the Country chart. Although the release that same year of Olivia Newton-John's Greatest Hits (No. 13 Pop, No. 7 Country) became her first platinum album, Newton-John was ready to move her career in new directions.
The release of the film was preceded one month by the telecast of Newton-John's second television special, Olivia. Grease became the biggest box-office hit of 1978 and remained popular enough that it was re-released in theaters on its 20th anniversary in 1998. The soundtrack spent 12 non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 and yielded three Top 5 singles for Newton-John: the No. 1 "You're The One That I Want" (with John Travolta), the No. 3 "Hopelessly Devoted To You," and the No. 5 "Summer Nights" (with John Travolta and the film's cast). The former two songs were written by Newton-John's long-time producer, John Farrar, specifically for the film. Newton-John became the second female (after Linda Ronstadt in 1977) to have two singles—"Hopelessly Devoted to You" and "Summer Nights"—in the Billboard Top 5 simultaneously. Newton-John's performance earned her a People's Choice award for Favorite Motion Picture Actress. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Musical and performed the Oscar-nominated "Hopelessly Devoted To You" at the 1979 Academy Awards. To this day, the soundtrack still sells several thousand copies per week and often appears on Billboard's Soundtracks chart.
Newton-John's transformation in the film from goody-goody "Sandy 1" to spandex-clad "Sandy 2" emboldened Newton-John to do the same with her music career. In November 1978, she released the pop album Totally Hot, which became her first solo Top 10 (No. 7) album since Have You Never Been Mellow. Dressed on the cover all in leather, the album's singles "A Little More Love" (No. 3 Pop, No. 94 Country, No. 4 AC), "Deeper Than The Night" (No. 11 Pop, No. 87 Country, No. 4 AC), and the title track (No. 52 Pop) all demonstrated a more-aggressive and more–up-tempo sound for Newton-John. Although the album clearly de-emphasized country, it still reached No. 4 on the Country Albums chart. Newton-John released the B-side, "Dancin' 'Round And 'Round," of the "Totally Hot" single to Country radio, where it peaked at No. 29 (as well as No. 82 Pop and No. 25 AC), becoming her last charted solo Country airplay single to date.
In 1981, Newton-John released her most successful studio album, the double platinum Physical. The title track, written by Steve Kipner and Terry Shaddick, spent ten weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, matching the record of most weeks at No. 1 held by Debby Boone's You Light Up My Life. The single was certified platinum, and it ultimately ranked as the biggest song of the decade. (In 2008, Billboard ranked the song No. 6 among all songs that charted in the 50-year history of the Hot 100.) The song even earned Newton-John her only placement ever on the R&B Singles (No. 28) and Albums (No. 32) chart. The Physical album spawned two more singles, Make A Move On Me (No. 5 Pop, No. 6 AC) and Landslide (No. 52 Pop).
To counter the overtly suggestive tone of the title track, Newton-John filmed an exercise-themed video that turned the song into an aerobics anthem (and made headbands a fashion accessory outside the gym). Newton-John became a pioneer in the nascent music-video industry by recording a video album for Physical featuring videos of all the album's tracks and three of her older hits. The video album earned her a fourth Grammy and was aired as an ABC prime time special, Let's Get Physical, becoming a Top 10 Nielsen hit. The success of Physical led to an international tour and the release of her second hits collection, the double platinum Olivia's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (No. 16 Pop), which yielded two more Top 40 singles: Heart Attack (No. 3 Pop) and Tied Up (No. 38 Pop). The tour was filmed for her Olivia In Concert television special, which premiered on HBO in January 1983. The special was subsequently released to video earning Newton-John another Grammy nomination.
Newton-John re-teamed with Travolta in 1983 for the critically and commercially unsuccessful Two of a Kind, redeemed by its platinum soundtrack (No. 26 Pop) featuring Twist Of Fate (No. 5 Pop); Livin' In Desperate Times (No. 31 Pop); and a new duet with Travolta, Take A Chance (No. 3 AC). Newton-John released another video package, the Grammy-nominated Twist Of Fate, featuring videos of her four songs on the Two of a Kind soundtrack and the two new singles from Olivia's Greatest Hits Vol. 2.
The same year, Newton-John and Pat Farrar founded Koala Blue. The store was originally for Australian imports, but evolved into a chain of women's clothing boutiques. The chain was initially successful, but eventually declared bankruptcy and closed in 1992. Newton-John and Farrar would later license the brand name for a line of Australian produced wines, confections, and bed/bath products.
Newton-John married long-time boyfriend Matt Lattanzi in December 1984. The couple had met four years earlier while filming Xanadu; they divorced in 1995. Newton-John resumed recording in 1985 with the release of the gold Soul Kiss (No. 29 Pop). By this point, fans were tiring of Newton-John's raunchier image. The album's only charted single was the title track (No. 20 Pop, No. 20 AC). Newton-John's pregnancy with daughter Chloe Rose Lattanzi (b. January 1986) limited her publicity for the album. The video album for Soul Kiss featured videos of only five of the album's ten tracks, and the album's second single, Toughen Up, failed to even chart.
After a three-year hiatus to raise Chloe, Newton-John returned with 1988's The Rumour. The album was promoted by an HBO special, Olivia Down Under, and its first single, the title track, was written and produced by Elton John. Both the single (No. 62 Pop, No. 33 AC) and the album (No. 67 Pop) fizzled as the nearly-40-year-old Newton-John seemed "old" when compared with the teen queens Debbie Gibson and Tiffany ruling the charts at that time. The second single, the Sandy Linzer/Irwin Levine–penned Can't We Talk It Over In Bed, did not chart. (Grayson Hugh, the song's arranger, susbequently released his version of the song as Talk It Over in 1989, and it became a Top 20 Pop hit.) A year later, Newton-John recorded her "self-indulgent" album, Warm and Tender, featuring lullabies and love songs for parents and their children. This album also did not revive her recording career, struggling to No. 124 Pop.
Newton-John's cancer diagnosis affected the type of music she recorded. In 1994, she released Gaia: One Woman's Journey, which chronicled her ordeal. This was the first album on which Newton-John wrote all of the songs, encouraging her to become more active as a songwriter thereafter. In 2005, she released Stronger Than Before, sold exclusively in the United States by Hallmark. Proceeds from the album's sales benefited breast cancer research. The album featured the song Phenomenal Woman based on the poem by Maya Angelou that featured guest vocals from Diahann Carroll, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Delta Goodrem, Amy Holland, Patti LaBelle, and Mindy Smith who were all cancer survivors or whose lives were affected by the disease. The following year, Newton-John released a healing CD, Grace And Gratitude.The album was sold exclusively by Walgreens, also benefitting various charities, and was the "heart" of their "Body - Heart - Spirit" Wellness Collection. The collection also featured a re-branded Liv-Kit and breast-health dietary supplements.
Newton-John's spirituality also extended to the release of several Christmas albums. In 2000, she teamed with Vince Gill and the London Symphony Orchestra for 'Tis The Season, sold exclusively through Hallmark. The following year, she released The Christmas Collection, which compiled seasonal music previously recorded for her Hallmark Christmas album, her appearance on Kenny Loggins' 1999 TNN Christmas special, and her contributions to the Mother And Child and Spirit Of Christmas multi-artist collections. In 2007, she re-teamed with her Grace And Gratitude producer, Amy Sky, for Christmas Wish (No. 187 Pop), which was sold exclusively by Target.
Newton-John's subsequent albums were all released primarily in Australia. Newton-John, John Farnham and Anthony Warlow toured Australia as The Main Event. The live album won an ARIA Award for Highest Selling Australian CD and was also nominated for Best Adult Contemporary Album. She and Farnham performed Dare To Dream at the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. In 2002, Newton-John released (2), a duets album featuring mostly Australian artists including Darren Hayes, Tina Arena, Jimmy Little, Billy Thorpe and Johnny O'Keefe as well as a heartfelt "duet" with the deceased Peter Allen. The same year, Newton-John was inducted into Australia's ARIA Hall of Fame. 2004 brought the release of Indigo: Women of Song, a tribute album covering songs by The Carpenters, Minnie Riperton, Doris Day, Nina Simone, Joan Baez and others. Newton-John dedicated the album to her mother who died the previous year.
Newton-John acted occasionally since Two of a Kind. She appeared in a supporting role in the 1996 AIDS drama, It's My Party - her first feature film since Two Of A Kind. In 2000, she appeared in a dramatically different role as Bitsy Mae Harling, a lesbian ex-con country singer, in Del Shores' Sordid Lives. Newton-John's television work included starring in two Christmas movies, A Mom For Christmas (1990) and A Christmas Romance (1994) - both Top 10 Nielsen hits. Her daughter, Chloe, starred as one of her children in both A Christmas Romance and in the 2001 Showtime film The Wilde Girls. Newton-John guest-starred as herself in the sitcoms Ned and Stacey, Murphy Brown and Bette. In Australia, Newton-John hosted Wild Life, a show about animals and nature - two major interests for Newton-John. She also guest starred as Joanna on two episodes of the Australian series The Man From Snowy River.
After her 1995 divorce from Matt Lattanzi, Newton-John met gaffer/cameraman Patrick McDermott the following year. The couple dated on and off for nine years until he went missing following a 2005 fishing trip off the California coast. Various theories have abounded regarding his disappearance ranging from his death by accident or foul play to McDermott staging his disappearance to avoid child support payments to his ex-wife, actress Yvette Nipar. To date, there have been no credible leads and he remains missing. Newton-John, who was in Australia at her self-owned Gaia Retreat & Spa at the time of his disappearance, was never a suspect and has refused to comment on any speculation. Newton-John returned to the tabloid headlines again in 2007 when it was revealed that her daughter was recovering from anorexia.
Newton-John released another concert DVD, Olivia Newton-John and the Sydney Symphony: Live at the Sydney Opera House, and a companion CD, Olivia's Live Hits, in January 2008. An edited version of the DVD premiered on PBS station, WLIW (Garden City, New York), in October 2007 and subsequently aired nationally during the network's fund-raising pledge drives. This was Newton-John's third live album after the 1981 Japanese release, Love Performance, and her 2000 Australian release, One Woman's Live Journey.
In June 2008, Newton-John secretly wed John ("Amazon John") Easterling, founder and president of natural remedy firm, Amazon Herb Company. The couple met 15 years earlier, but only became romantically involved in 2007. (Like Newton-John, this was Easterling's second marriage.) The couple married alone in a private Incan spiritual ceremony in Cuzco, Peru on June 21 followed nine days later by a legal ceremony on the Jupiter Island beachfront in Florida. There were no guests at either service since the couple preferred to marry simply and privately. Only Newton-John's daughter, Chloe, was aware of the nuptials. The couple did not announce their marriage until a July 4th barbecue at Newton-John's Malibu, California home where guests were surprised with the news. The wedding was confirmed thereafter by HELLO! magazine which published exclusive pictures of both weddings.
Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards
American Music Awards
Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Awards
Country Music Association (CMA) Awards
Daytime Emmy Awards
National Association of Retail Merchandisers (NARM)
People's Choice Awards