Singer. Songwriter. Composer. Pianist. Author. Neil Sedaka’s impressive sixty year career ranges from being one of the first teen pop sensations of the 50’s, a successful songwriter for himself and other artists in the 60’s, a superstar in the 70’s, remaining a constant force in writing and performing presently. This is all thanks to the countless songs he has written, performed, and produced that continue to inspire artists and audiences around the world.
Neil Sedaka was born on March 13, 1939. Neil’s interest in music began at the young age of eight, when he would listen to The Make-Believe Ballroom. But, it was not Rock and Roll, but Classical music that would shape Neil into the musician he is today. By the time he was nine years old, he had already begun his intensive classical piano training at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music. At 16, Arthur Rubinstein voted Neil as one of the best New York High School pianists. Though Neil considered pursuing a Doctorate in music, Neil’s next choice became his chosen vocation.
Eager to gain acceptance from his peers at Abraham Lincoln High School, Neil began performing Rock N Roll outside of his classical training. At this time, he would form the Doo-Wop group The Tokens, in which they would record two singles that would go on to be regional hits. But, it was his introduction to his young neighbor Howard Greenfield, by Greenfield’s mother, that began one of the most prolific songwriting partnerships of the last half-century that sold forty million records between 1959-1963.
Sedaka and Greenfield became one of the original creators of the “Brill Building” sound in the late fifties and early sixties when they were the first to sign with Don Kirshner and Al Nevins at Aldon Music. Aldon Music would go on to sign Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Paul Simon among many others, and they became the center of the pop world.
Sedaka catapulted into stardom after Connie Francis recorded his "Stupid Cupid." She then sang the theme song Neil and Howard had written for the 1960 MGM spring break classic, Where the Boys Are, which would be her biggest hit. Rhythm and blues stars Clyde McPhatter and LaVern Baker also scored hits with his songs. As a result of these hits, Sedaka was able to sign a contract with RCA as a writer and performer of his own material. Sedaka soon recorded chart toppers "The Diary," "Oh! Carol," " Stairway to Heaven," "Calendar Girl," "Little Devil," "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen," "Next Door To An Angel," and "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do," songs that have become a part of peoples' lives and can instantly take listeners back to special moments.
In 1964, the direction of American music changed drastically when The Beatles launched The British Invasion. It became very hard for most male solo artists to continue to pursue their career in music. Due to his many talents as a songwriter, Neil was able to prevail, writing hit songs for such artists including Frank Sinatra (The Hungry Years), Elvis Presley (Solitaire), Tom Jones (“Puppet Man”), The Monkees (When Love Comes Knocking At Your Door), and The Fifth Dimension (Workin’ on a Groovy Thing).
Sedaka found enormous popularity in the UK with the release of a string of critically praised albums “Emergence”, “Solitaire” and “The Tra-La Days Are Over”. These albums caught the attention of Elton John, who was riding the wave of his own tremendous success. John would sign Sedaka to his fledging new label Rocket Records and re-introduced Sedaka to American audiences. The two albums recorded for Rocket, “Sedaka's Back” in 1974 and “The Hungry Years” in 1975, became top selling albums globally. His comeback was further heralded by two of his songs co-written with Phil Cody; "Bad Blood" and the quintessential "Laughter in the Rain," both reaching the #1 position on the music charts. "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" was re-released as a ballad in 1975, and made music history by becoming the first song recorded in two different versions by the same artist to reach Number 1. During this time, Captain and Tennille scored a worldwide #1 hit and the Grammy for Record of the Year with Sedaka/Greenfield’s "Love Will Keep Us Together". The line “Sedaka Is Back” can be heard as the song fades out.
The accolades showered on Neil Sedaka have been numerous. Among the honors he has received, Sedaka has been inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, has had a street named after him in his hometown of Brooklyn, and was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
With a career spanning six decades, a rare feat in the entertainment world, Sedaka never ceases to amaze. He shows no signs of slowing down. Neil has appeared on FOX’s hit Television show American Idol, as a guest judge – in which Clay Aiken would perform Neil’s Solitaire, which saw an inevitable release, reaching #4 on the Hot 100 Singles chart, and was one of the Top Selling Singles of 2004.
In addition to his extensive worldwide tour schedule, Neil has released “I Do It For Applause”, a CD of twelve new Sedaka songs and the official release of “Joie De Vivre”. “The album is the culmination of sixty-four years of writing", says Neil. "This is a gift I was born with. My main objective is to always top the last collection, raise the bar and reinvent Neil Sedaka."
All of these ventures will no doubt add to his legend – that of a consummate musician, an extraordinary vocalist, and an ageless songwriting talent.
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