Saturday, June 5, 2021

Olivia Newton-John, The #36 Artist of the Rock Era, Part Three


(Continued from Part Two)

Olivia starred with Gene Kelly in the movie Xanadu.  Although the film was disappointing, the soundtrack was another of The Top Soundtracks of the Rock Era*.  No less than five Top 20 singles were released from the soundtrack album.  Olivia led things off with the multi-format smash "Magic", #1 on both the Popular (#1 for 4 weeks) and Adult Contemporary charts (#1 for 5 weeks).

 "Magic" was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards.  Newton-John teamed with old friend Cliff Richard for the duet "Suddenly", a #4 smash on the Adult chart that stalled at #20, one of The Top Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

Olivia was nominated for Favorite Female Artist for the sixth time at the American Music Awards.  The title song (with ELO) reached #2 on the Adult chart and #8 overall.

 "Suspended In Time" was never released as a single but is another great song on the album.

In 1981, Olivia released the album Physical, which continued her highly successful image change.  The title song tied the Rock Era record for weeks at #1 (along with Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" in 1977) and sold over two million copies.

Olivia received a star on the Hollywood 

Walk of Fame.


Although she is a good songwriter, this

is one of the only songs she included on

her albums until later in her career.

Olivia said she wrote the lyrics to

"The Promise (The Dolphin Song)" in 

Hawai'i after feeling inspired by the beauty

of the creatures she saw frolicking in the



Newton-John remained hot with "Make

A Move On me", #6 on the Adult

Contemporary chart and #5 overall.

Olivia was nominated for Best Female

Pop Vocal Performance for "Physical"

at the Grammy Awards.  Newton-John

won her 10th American Music Award for

Favorite Female Artist, the fourth time in

her career that she was so honored.  She

won Billboard Music Awards for Top Pop

Singles Artist, Top Female Pop Singles

Artist and Top Pop Single ("Physical").

The video album earned a Grammy and 

was featured on the ABC special,

Let's Get Physical.  



Newton-John enjoyed a successful

international tour.  The tour was 

filmed and released on the HBO special,

Olivia in Concert.  She released the 

compilation album Olivia's Greatest Hits,

Vol. 2, another Double Platinum

success.  Olivia recorded the new song

"Heart Attack" for the project, a #3 smash.


She was nominated for Best Female

Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy

Awards for "Heart Attack".  Newton-John

and Travolta were back in 1983 with the

movie Two of a Kind, which flopped at

the box office but did score the #5 hit

"Twist Of Fate". 

Newton-John received a Grammy nomination

for Best Long Form Music Video for

Olivia in Concert.

Newton-John and Pat Farrar (her

longtime friend now married to John)

founded Koala Blue, a store of boutiques.

Koala Blue originally was successful but

closed its doors in 1992.

In 1984, Newton-John married her long-time boyfriend, actor Matt Lattanzi, whom she met on the set of Xanadu.  They divorced in 1995.

The album Soul Kiss in 1985 did go Gold but the title single stalled at #20.  Pregnant with her child Chloe, Olivia was limited in her ability to promote the album.  In 1988, Newton-John released the album The Rumour and starred in her HBO special Olivia Down Under.  

An old friend returned to helm the studio; John Farrar produced the 1989 album Warm and Tender.  

Newton-John starred in the Christmas television movies A Mom for Christmas in 1990.  In 1991, Olivia was named the National Spokesperson for the Colette Chuda Environmental Fund after the death of Colette Chuda, daughter of one of Olivia's friends.

Olivia released the compilation album Back to Basics:  The Essential Collection 1971-1992 and planned to tour for the first time in ten years.  But her father died and that same week Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer so she had to cancel the tour.

Thankfully, Olivia recovered and her work promoting breast cancer research and other health issues had been not only amazing but groundbreaking.  Her diagnosis led to a change in her life, her way of thinking, and the music she recorded.  


In 1994, Newton-John released the album Gaia:  One Woman's Journey, in which she talks about her ordeal.  ONJ wrote all the music and lyrics herself for the first time.  One of the top songs on the album is "No Matter What You Do".

 Environmentally conscious, Olivia wrote "Don't Cut Me Down" about the need to preserve our rainforests.  Olivia starred in the television movie A Christmas Romance, which also included her daughter Chloe in 1994.    During this time, Newton-John also appeared in the sitcoms Murphy BrownNed and Stacey, and Bette.

Olivia is now a spokesperson for the Liv-Kit, a breast self-examination product and is part owner of the Gaia Retreat and Spa in New South Wales.

In 1998, Olivia released the album Back with a Heart.  "Love Is A Gift" was featured in the daytime soap opera As the World Turns and captured the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Song.  Newton-John promoted the album with her first tour in 16 years.

Olivia received the Humanitarian Award from the Red Cross and the Woman of the 21st Century Award from the Women's Guild of Cedar-Sinai Hospital for her breast cancer and environmental charity work .


Olivia joined John Farnham and Anthony Warlow for the Main Event Tour, and the album Highlights from The Main Event went to #1, sold over four million copies and was nominated for Best Adult Contemporary Album.  Newton-John and Farnham performed "Dare To Dream" at the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Olivia released the album One Woman's Live Journey in 2000, her first live album in 19 years.  Most of her studio albums were limited for release in Australia.

Olivia received the Ermenegildo Zegna International Environmental Award for "increasing public awareness of environmental problems" and the Green Globe Arts and Nature Award for her contribution to the preservation of rainforests.

In 2006, Newton-John received the Humanitarian Award from Decatur Memorial Hospital in Illinois for her breast cancer awareness work and the Kimmel Center Valor Award in 2007 for raising funds for cancer research.

Newton-John married John Easterling, founder and president of the Amazon Herb Company, in 2008.  

Also that year, Olivia raised money to help build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia.  She led a three-week 228 km walk along the Great Wall of China, joined by several celebrities and cancer survivors.  

Newton-John began filming the comedy A Few Best Men and released the CD A Celebration in Song in 2011.  Olivia performed on several continents from 2012-2017 and had a three-year residency performing in Las Vegas, Nevada.  In 2012, ONJ and John Travolta joined up to record the charity album This Christmas, with part of the proceeds going to her Cancer & Wellness Centre.  Guest artists included Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, Tony Bennett, Kenny G and Cliff Richard.

That same year, Olivia was named a National Living Treasure of Australia.

In 2019, Olivia auctioned hundreds of items to raise $2.4 million for her Centre, including her iconic outfit worn in Grease which itself brought $405,700.

In 2020, Newton-John was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to charity, cancer research, and entertainment.

Olivia has won four Grammy Awards from 12 nominations, 10 American Music Awards out of 13 nominations, nine Billboard Music Awards and four People's Choice Awards and has been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and one Academy Award.

Olivia has scored 13 Gold singles and 2 Platinum singles.  She has racked up 39 career hits with 15 of those going Top 10 and 5 #1 smashes.  20 of 35 hits have reached the Top 10 on the Adult chart with a phenomenal 10 going to #1.  Only five artists in music history have had more #1 songs among adults.

Olivia has sold over 100 million albums, making her one of the top-selling artists in history.  Fifteen of Newton-John's albums have reached Gold status with seven of those going Platinum.

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