Singer. Songwriter. Composer. Pianist. Author. These are just a few of the titles that can be used to describe Neil Sedaka. His impressive sixty year career ranges from his roots as a classically trained pianist at The Juilliard School of Music, being one of the first teen pop sensations of the 50s, a relevant songwriter for himself and other artists in the 60s, a superstar in the 70s, remaining a constant force in writing and performing presently.
Sedaka and his creative partner, Greenfield were deemed as 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.
Throughout the British Invasion during the 1960’s, Neil wrote hit songs for 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).
Neil’s journey continued in the UK with the release of his album “Emergence” in 1972. It was Elton John who decided to sign Neil to his up and coming record label Rocket Records and begin to re-introduce Neil to American audiences. The two albums he recorded for the Rocket label, “Sedaka’s Back” in 1974 and “The Hungry Years” in 1975, both became top selling albums around the world. 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. In Rolling Stone Magazine, Sedaka was hailed as “the new phenomenon.” The song “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” was re-released as a ballad in 1976, and made music history when it reached #1 on the charts, becoming the first song recorded in two different versions by the same artist to reach the Number One. During this time, Sedaka also helped to launch the career of the Captain and Tennille with their version of his “Love Will Keep Us Together,” which won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year for this worldwide, number one hit.
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.
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.
On June 10 2004, he received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Popular Music / Songwriters Hall of Fame at the organization’s 35th annual induction and awards ceremony in New York.
On April 24, 2007, Neil released “The Definitive Collection”, a career-spanning retrospective released in honor of his 50th Anniversary in show business. “The Definitive Collection” debuted at #22 on the Billboard Chart, marking the first time Neil has appeared on the chart since 1980.
On October 26, 2007, Neil was honored with a tribute at Avery Fisher Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center. “Neil Sedaka: 50 Years of Hits”, a benefit for The Elton John AIDS Foundation, showcased Neil’s songs, with performances by Connie Francis, Dion, Paul Shaffer, Natalie Cole, Clay Aiken, Renee Olstead, and Captain and Tennille. The evening was hosted by Cousin Brucie Morrow and David Foster. Sir Elton John and Barry Manilow sent video tributes in their absence.
Inspired by his grandchildren, Neil released “Waking Up is Hard to Do”, a collection of Neil Sedaka Hits that have been reinvented as children’s songs. “Waking Up is Hard to Do” was a family collaboration, in which Neil’s son Marc adapted four of his father’s classic songs, and Neil’s five-year-old granddaughters made their recording debut as his backup vocalists. Since the release of the CD, Imagine Publishing has begun releasing a series of books based on these songs. In September 2010 saw the release of “Waking Up Is Hard to Do”. Its follow up, “Dinosaur Pet”, featuring Marc’s new lyric to “Calendar Girl”, was released in May 2012 and peaked at #3 on The New York Times Bestseller List.
Neil has returned to his classical roots, composing his first symphonic piece “Joie De Vivre”, and his first piano concerto “Manhattan Intermezzo”. In October 2010, Neil recorded these two pieces with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London at the famed Air Studios in London.
In addition to his extensive worldwide tour schedule, Neil will be releasing “I Do It For Applause” a CD of twelve new Sedaka songs this August. This is Neil’s second acoustic album, following 2013’s “The Real Neil”. “This is a gift I was born with, one that you can’t really study in a classroom”, says Neil. “I tried over the years to develop and grow. My main objective is always to top the last collection, raise the bar and reinvent Neil Sedaka”. “I Do It For Applause” will also mark the official release of “Joie De Vivre”.
Neil is currently developing a Broadway show based on his life. All of these ventures will no doubt add to his legend – that of a consummate musician, an extraordinary vocalist, and an ageless songwriting talent.