As a child she always showed an aptitude to music and acting and at 14 started her own all-girl band, Sol Four, with three classmates and often performed in a coffee shop owned by her brother-in-law.
It wasn't long before she became a regular on radio and television shows including 'The Happy Show' where she performed as Lovely Livvy.
She also appeared on the Go Show where she met her lifelong friend and later singing partner Pat Carroll.
Olivia Newton-John entered a talent contest on the television program Sing, Sing, Sing, hosted by 1960s Australian rock 'n' roll icon Johnny O'Keefe, won the contest and received a trip to England as the prize.
It was while she was in England that Olivia recorded her first single, 'Till You Say You'll Be Mine' for Decca Records in 1966.
At the time she was extremely homesick because she missed Australia, her family and her then-boyfriend, Ian Turpie, who was also a well known singer and TV performer.
Olivia decided to book her passage home but when her mother found out she cancelled the booking and made her daughter stay in England a bit longer. That turned out to be an extremely astute move because when her good friend, Pat Carroll moved to England everything changed.
The two formed a duo and toured nightclubs in Europe until Pat's visa expired forcing her to return to Australia. Newton-John then decided to remain in England to pursue solo work.
In 1971 Olivia Newton-John released her first solo album, 'If Not For You', The title track, written by Bob Dylan, was her first international hit and reached the number 25 spot on the Billboard Top 100 and number 1 on the Adult/Contemporary chart.
Her follow-up, 'Banks of the Ohio,' was a Top 10 hit in England and Australia, but never really made it in America.
Olivia Newton-John was voted Best British Female Vocalist two years in a row by the magazine Record Mirror and made frequent appearances on Cliff Richard's weekly show 'It's Cliff Richard'.
In America however her career seemed to have stalled until the release of 'Let Me Be There' in 1973.
The song reached the American Top 10 on the Pop Music charts, climbed to number 7 on the Country Music charts and made it to number 3 on Adult/Cont.
The song also earned her a Grammy Award for Best Country Female and an Academy of Country Music award for Most Promising Female Vocalist. The song also propelled the album Let Me Be There to No. 1 on the Country Albums chart for two weeks.
In 1974 Olivia Newton-John represented the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song, 'Long Live Love'.
She was placed fourth at the contest in Brighton behind the Swedish group ABBA's winning song of 'Waterloo'.
All six song candidates for the contest were recorded by Newton-John and included on her 'Long Live Love' album, her first for EMI.
The title track was the first single and reached number 5 on the Pop charts, number 2 on Country charts and No. 2 Adult/Cont.
The next single, 'I Honestly Love You,' became Olivia Newton-John's signature song and her first number one hit record.
Encouraged by another expatriate Australian singer, Helen Reddy, Olivia left England and moved to the United States.
She again topped the charts with her next album, 'Have You Never Been Mellow'.
The album included two top ten singles, the title track and 'Please Mr Please'.
But suddenly her music career stalled 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,' staggered to number 13 and 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.
Olivia's career soared after starring in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Grease in 1978 in which she played the lead role of Sandy opposite John Travolta.
Grease became the biggest box-office hit of 1978 and the album featuring the soundtrack spent 12 non-consecutive weeks at No.1 and yielded three Top 5 singles for her; 'You're The One That I Want' (with John Travolta), 'Hopelessly Devoted To You,' and 'Summer Nights' (with John Travolta and the film's cast).
Olivia Newton-John's performance earned her a People's Choice award for Favourite 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.
After 'Grease' Olivia never really looked back. She continued to release successful albums and singles culminating with the 1981 album the double platinum 'Physical'.
The title track spent ten weeks on top of 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 for sales 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 Olivia her only placement ever on the R&B Singles at number 28.
The Physical album also produced two more successful singles, 'Make a Move on Me' and 'Landslide'.
It was in 1992 that Olivia Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer, forcing her to cancel all publicity for her new album and the tour she had planned to promote it.
After it was announced that she had recovered from the deadly disease she became a tireless advocate for breast cancer research and other health issues.
She has been a product spokesperson for a breast self-examination product. She is co-owner of the Gaia Retreat and Spa in Byron Bay, Australia, which is advertised as "the ideal place to renew, refresh, and restore your mind, body and soul."
Olivia Newton John continues to be one of Australia's most successful artists and performers.
She lives in both the United States and Australia, makes regular appearances on TV and recently played a leading role in the hit comedy movie 'A Few Best Men'.
Her songs are regularly heard on radio and you can download all of her wonderful recordings below from iTunes.
She continues to be one of our all-time favourite singers
Go On To The Seekers page
Return to Music Of Australia
Return from Olivia Newton-John to Australian-Information-Stories home page