Synopsis of Pop Music
"Come take my hand,
You should know me,
I've always been in your mind..."
Many female vocalists dabbled in soft-rock during the 70’s, but there was only one soft-rock queen: Olivia Newton-John. Her sweet vocal style was equally at home with country and pop material and thus made her a star in both worlds. As the decade continued, she flirted with rock, dance music and even film stardom via a role in Grease. In the process, she became a pop music institution.
Born in England and raised in Australia, Olivia Newton-John began pursuing her show-business dreams at age 12 when she formed a folk group with some friends. In 1970, she became a member of Toomorrow, an attempt at a British version of the Monkees. This gave her some public exposure and brought her to the attention of English superstar Cliff Richard, who featured her on some of his recordings. She soon scored a hit of her own with “If Not For You,” a cover of a Bob Dylan classic. It went Top-10 in the U.K. and gave her a commercial foothold in the U.S. by landing in the Top-30.
After doing a residency on Cliff Richard’s BBC variety show, Olivia Newton-John became an British star. She consolidated her American fame in 1974 with the country-flavored #6 hit, “Let Me Be There,” which also won her a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal. Later in the year, she scored another c&w-style hit with “If You Love Me, Let Me Know.” She ended the year with one last hit, a plaintive ballad called “I Honestly Love You.”
1975 was a banner year for Olivia Newton John. She won several trophies at the American Music Awards, including Favorite Female Artist in both the Pop and Country categories, and a Record of the Year Grammy for “I Honestly Love You.” She followed these award successes with a #1 hit, the lilting ballad “Have You Never Been Mellow.” A similarly-titled album also went to #1 on the album charts. In 1976, she swept the American Music Awards once more and starred in her first television special on CBS.
In 1977, Olivia Newton-John staged a successful concert at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House and scored a Top-20 hit with a ballad, “Sam.” In 1978, she took her career to new heights by playing the role of Sandy in Grease. The soundtrack album from this film sold in the multi-millions and spawned several hit singles. “You’re The One That I Want,” a 50’s-style duet with John Travolta, became a #1 hit. Another duet between the two, “Summer Nights,” went to #5 and Olivia had #3 hit on her own with the sweeping, orchestrated balladry of “Hopelessly Devoted To You.”
At the end of 1978, Olivia Newton-John released the Totally Hot album, her first stab at moving in a more adult-oriented ‘rock’ direction. She was rewarded with two hits in the sultry “A Little More Love” and “Deeper Than The Night.” In 1980, she starred in another film, Xanadu, which resulted in another hit soundtrack in conjunction with E.L.O.. From this album, Olivia scored hits with “Magic,” a sultry soft-rock tune reminiscent of “A Little More Love,” and “Suddenly,” a duet with her former mentor Cliff Richard.
In 1981, Olivia Newton John dominated the #1 position on the pop charts for a jaw-dropping ten weeks with her sexy, danceable hit “Physical.” This amorous song also had a memorable video that contrasted Olivia’s appearance in leotards and leg-warmers with the comic relief appearance of several less-developed exercise partners in a gym. The next year, she scored another hit with a synth-driven hybrid of rock and disco, “Heart Attack.” She starred in Two Of A Kind, another film with John Travolta, in 1983, and scored a hit with a song from the soundtrack, “Twist of Fate.”
In 1985, Olivia went Top-20 with “Soul Kiss,” another of her patented steamy soft-rockers. She continued to record into the early 90’s, but was forced to go on hiatus when she discovered that she had cancer. However, she successfully recovered after treatment and returned to recording in the mid-90’s with two albums, Gaia and the Nashville-styled Back With A Heart. She currently divides her time between touring and working with cancer-oriented charity organizations and remains popular in both the country and pop worlds.
Artist Release History1971 - Olivia Newton John
1971 - Toomorrow
1971 - If Not for You
1973 - Let Me Be There
1974 - If You Love Me Let Me Know
1974 - First Impressions
1974 - Crystal Lady
1974 - Long Live Love
1975 - Have You Never Been Mellow
1975 - Clearly Love
1976 - Come on Over
1976 - Don't Stop Believin'
1977 - Making a Good Thing Better
1978 - Totally Hot
1978 - Grease
1980 - Xanadu
1981 - Physical
1985 - Soul Kiss
1985 - Can't We Talk It Over in Bed
1988 - The Rumour
1989 - Warm and Tender
1992 - Back to Basics (compilation)
1994 - 48 Original Tracks
1998 - Back with a Heart
1999 - Highlights from the Main Event
1999 - Country Girl
2000 - One Woman's Live Journey