Olivia Newton-John

  • English-Australian singer, songwriter born in Cambridge England in 1948. She moved to Australia when she was 6 years old, and is most often considered Australian. She died in 2022 of breast cancer.
  • Newton-John first started performing at 14 years old in a coffeehouse with 3 girlfriends, calling themselves Sol Four. She started to perform on radio and television programs, and she won a talent contest on a program that earned her a free trip to Great Britain. While in England, she recorded a single in 1966, Till You Say You’ll Be Mine, which did not chart. Soon after, she was selected to be part of a bubblegum pop group called Toomorrow. In 1970, the group appeared in a science fiction musical film of the same name, and 2 singles were released by the group, neither of which sold. Toomorrow soon disbanded, and Newton-John became part of Cliff Richard’s touring show and British television show.
  • Based on her exposure with Richard, Newton-John was signed to a recording contract, and her debut solo album, If Not For You, was released in 1971. The title track was a surprise hit in the U.S., reaching #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #25 on the Hot 100. Follow up singles did modestly well in the U.K., but she would not have another hit in the U.S. until her third album, Let Me Be There, was released in 1973. The title track would be the first of 5 songs to make the top 10 of the Hot 100 chart over the next 2 years. Two songs reached #1 on the chart – I Honestly Love You and Have You Never Been Mellow – and Newton-John had become the queen of mellow country rock. She won 3 Grammy awards in both country and pop categories for Let Me Be There and I Honestly Love You.
  • She continued to have success with soft pop music, particularly in the Adult Contemporary category, where she had a record 7 consecutive #1 songs. In 1978, she moved to sex appeal when she starred with John Travolta in the film Grease. The soundtrack to Grease became one of the biggest selling soundtracks of all time, certified 8x platinum in the U.S. and with worldwide sales of over 38 million copies. The single You’re The One That I Want reached #1 in 13 markets, including the U.S. The songs Summer Nights and Hopelessly Devoted To You also were top 10 hits.
  • After Grease, she pushed the sexy image even further with her 1978 album Totally Hot and 1981’s Physical, as well as her role in the film Xanadu. Top 5 songs from these albums include A Little More Love, Magic, Physical and Make A Move On Me. The video for Physical won her final Grammy award, and the song was the biggest selling single of the entire decade of the 00s. The provocative lyrics to Physical was somewhat scandalous (for the time), and Newton-John addressed it by releasing an exercise video that turned the song into a aerobics anthem – her exercise routine with a headband created a fashion movement for women.
  • In 1983, she performed with Travolta again in the film Two of a Kind, which was panned by critics and fans, though the soundtrack eventually was certified platinum. Four more studio albums released between 1985 and 1989 only had a few modest hits on the Adult Contemporary chart. At this point, she was focusing more on motherhood and family. In 1992, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She recovered, and has been a major advocate for breast cancer research ever since.
  • While no longer making pop hits, Newton-John continued to record and perform music – she released 11 albums since 2000, many of which have been Christmas albums or inspirational music for people who are faced with challenges in life. She suffered from cancer later in her life – She has a cancer and wellness center named after her in Melbourne Australia, and in 2019, she auctioned off the black pants and jacket that she wore in Grease, along with other items, with the proceeds going to the cancer center. The jacket sold for $243,000, and the pants sold for $163,000. The billionaire who bought the jacket returned it to her after the auction. In total, the auction raised over $2.4 million.
  • Olivia Newton-John was the girl next door that turned naughty – at least in 1970’s terms. Watch her get nasty in the video for Physical – “let me hear your body talk.”

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