Although born as Carson Wayne Newton in 1943, fans around the world know him better as the legendary singer-songwriter, Wayne Newton. As the son of a father who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, young Newton spent his youth as Virginian native learning the guitar and piano. After the war was over, the family moved to Ohio where his father became a mechanic. Later, they moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1952 in hopes the drier climate would help Newton’s asthmatic condition. For Newton, while growing up, he and his brother performed at various venues together before appearing on the Ozark Jubilee, an ABC television production belonging to the Grand Ole Opry. This ultimately led Wayne and Jerry Newton to a contract in Las Vegas that lasted from 1958 until 1963. In addition to this, they also performed on The Jackie Gleason Show and Bonanza. Not only was Wayne Newton singing on television but acting as well.
Celebrity Support Group
When Wayne Newton started out as an entertainer, the likes of Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Bobby Darrin, and George Burns took him under their respective wings as they helped shape him into joining their ranks as an iconic legend. His high pitch vocals were instrumental in his success as a recording artist as a teen and as an adult. Although his voice wasn’t quite as high pitched as an adult, it still was enough to turn him into one of the most beloved stars that not only graced the radio stations but the Las Vegas entertainment scene as well.
The first two years of the 1980s saw Independence Day concerts performed by rock groups, including The Beach Boys, at the nation’s capital city of Washington, D.C. Although there were large crowds that turned out for these events, it also met with substance abuse issues which saw Wayne Newton take their place in 1983 in hopes to attract a better-behaved audience. This decision was mostly met favorably but not everyone agreed with the decision to tone down the rock and roll influence.
In 1989, Wayne Newton’s popularity was enough to become a pay-per-view event but it did not feature his trademark songs. Instead, he performed “MacArthur Park” as the show’s finale. Among the audience that expected to hear “Danke Schoen” and “Red Roses for a Blue Lady,” they were disappointed to not hear them and expressed that disappointment in that regard. However, the rest of the audience was impressed enough with “MacArthur Park” to give Newton and the song the standing ovation it deserved.
Mr. Las Vegas
Wayne Newton was among the most prominent stars ever to perform in Las Vegas, Nevada. He earned the “Mr. Las Vegas” label of recognition due to his musical contribution to the venues of casinos, clubs, and hotels. From 1999 until 2005 it was with Stardust before it closed its doors for the last time in 2006. He has also performed at the Hilton, the Tropicana, and at Caesar’s Palace. Wayne Newton has performed over thirty thousand shows in Las Vegas in the sixty years he has served as an entertainer there.
Wayne Newton has forty-three albums to his credit, along with thirty-nine singles that have reached the official music charts between 1963 to 1992. He has also been in twenty movies as an actor and made thirty-seven television appearances either as an actor or as a guest.
Top 10 Wayne Newton Songs
#10 – Years
First recorded in 1979 by country music artist, Barbara Mandrell, “Years” was covered in 1980 by Wayne Newton as an easy-listening number which peaked as high as number forty on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and at number thirty-five on the US Billboard Hot 100. “Years” is fantastic as a song when performed by the right artists who respect it for what it is. With Newton, his take on “Years” was so beautifully played out as a sharing of fond memories, and what was it’s no wonder it became a fan favorite played at anniversaries, funerals, and nostalgic favorites.
#9 – Remember When (We Made These Memories)
In 1966, “Remember When (We Made These Memories)” was one of the singles featured on the album, Wayne Newton…Now. On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, it was a number fifteen hit and it peaked as high as number sixty-nine on the US Billboard Hot 100. Wayne Newton’s vocal talent as a teenager here is phenomenal as he brought up fond memories shared between himself and his love interest. As an adult, the beauty seems even greater as a more seasoned artist later shared “Remember When” as someone with more experience about fond memories and how they’re worth remembering.
#8 – I’ll Be with You In Apple Blossom Time
“I’ll Be with You In Apple Blossom Time” was first recorded as a song in 1937 by Artie Shaw, then by a number of artists before Wayne Newton’s 1965 version. Instead of the boogie-woogie style performed by The Andrews Sisters, his bluesy version became a number seventeen hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and a number fifty-two hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. As a teenager, Wayne Newton’s incredible voice made this love ballad lyrically play out as a magical experience. As an adult, that magic has not lost its touch.
#7 – Summer Wind
Originally, “Summer Wind” was a 1965 song released from Germany as “Der Sommerwind.” In the U.S., it was first recorded as an English version during the same year by Wayne Newton and it became a number nine hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and a number seventy-eight on the US Billboard Hot 100.
The inspiration behind the song came from the metaphorical comparison of summer wind passing from the northern regions of Africa into Southern Europe as a sign of changing seasons over time. Although Frank Sinatra was the artist that turned “Summer Wind” into a number one hit a year later, there is still that magical touch Newton delivers to his version that makes it an easy fan favorite.
#6 – Can’t You Hear the Song?
“Can’t You Hear the Song?” was a number eight hit for Wayne Newton in Canada, a number three hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and a number forty-eight hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was recorded and released a few months after the original performance by Butterscotch. This beautiful love song serves as another great example of how fantastic Wayne Newton’s voice is as a lyricist and why he has remained as an all-time favorite among fans who can’t get enough of easy listening classics like “Can’t You Hear the Song?”
#5 – The Letter
1992’s “The Letter” was Wayne Newton’s controversial number one hit on the US Cashbox charts but not on any of the US Billboard charts. A letter Elvis Presley tossed aside and was later bought by Netwon at an auction became a source of information when Presley fans wanted to know what was written in it. As a result, Newton recorded the letter as a song by simply performing each of the words expressed in it. “The Letter” made history by becoming a number one hit on the US Cashbox Pop chart and the US Cashbox Country chart but did not appear at all on any official music charts and publications associated with Billboard Magazine.
#4 – MacArthur Park
On May 23, 1989, Wayne Newton performed before a live audience his version of “MacArthur Park” as the final song of the evening instead of “Danke Schoen” and “Red Roses for a Blue Lady.” Although not officially released as a single, Newton’s performance of this broadcasted song was one for record books as one of the best stage performances since Richard Harris’s 1968 original and Donna Summer’s epic 1978 cover version. Intensely soulful, Newton’s “MacArthur Park” in 1989 rivaled his original 1973 stage performance and definitely deserved its place as a concert finale when he held his pay-per-view event.
#3 – Daddy, Don’t You Walk So Fast
“Daddy, Don’t You Walk So Fast” was an RIAA-certified gold seller not long after its 1972 release and was also a number one hit in Australia, Canada, and the US Cashbox chart. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number four and was a crossover hit at number fifty-five on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The heartbreak narration of this song continues to tug as an emotional number as it was a lyrical tale of a child witnessing the parents going their separate ways as they inch closer to the reality of a divorce.
#2 – Red Roses for a Blue Lady
Originally recorded in 1948 by John Laurentz, “Red Roses for a Blue Lady” has since been covered by a long list of artists, including Wayne Newton. For Newton, his 1965 version of this apologetic love song was a number twenty-three hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, a number-four hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and a number three hit on the RPM Adult Contemporary chart. Newton’s emotional delivery to his sweetheart in this touching song hopes she will take the red roses he’s offering, as well as his proposal of marriage. “Red Roses for a Blue Lady” became one of Wayne Newton’s signature songs and remains one of his most beloved hits among fans to this day.
#1 – Danke Shoen (as the Newton Brothers)
In 1963, “Danke Shoen” became Wayne Newton’s first hit single on the US Billboard Hot 100 after it peaked at number thirteen and was a number three hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Originally, this was a German pop song that was first recorded in 1959 before Wayne Newton turned it into an international hit with his American lyrical version. It earned popularity again in 1986 after the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “Danke Shoen” has become more than just a song but a popular “thank-you” catchphrase shared by people who may or may not know a thing or two about the song.
It’s also been featured many times over in commercials, movies, televised programs, and video games. This is one of Wayne Newton’s signature songs that was also covered by Connie Francis in the languages of French, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. Aside from the Italian version, “Danke Shoen” kept its title line in her performances. Although the adult voice is not quite as high pitched as the original performance Newton made as a teenager, both versions are all-time classics that are every bit as legendary as Mr. Las Vegas himself.
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Top 10 Wayne Newton Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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