Neil Sedaka (b. March 13, 1939) is a highly acclaimed pop singer, songwriter, composer, and pianist with a long and distinguished career spanning over six decades. His many hits include "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" (1962, 1975 remake), "Laughter In The Rain" (1974), and "Bad Blood" (1975). He is also a prolific songwriter whose songs have been recorded by such bands and artists as LaVern Baker, the Carpenters, Jimmy Clanton, The 5th Dimension, Connie Francis, Lesley Gore, Tom Jones, Clyde McPhatter, The Monkees, Elvis Presley, and Frank Sinatra.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Sedaka began a rigorous course of musical training as a child studying classical piano after winning a scholarship at age 9 to the Juilliard School of Music's Preparatory Division for Children. By the time he was 13, his attention had turned to pop when he was introduced to Howard Greenfield, then 16 years old and an aspiring poet and lyricist, with whom he began a long and fruitful songwriting collaboration. In 1955, Sedaka co-founded The Tokens with several fellow Abraham Lincoln High School classmates. First known as The Linc-Tones, they would later top the charts in 1961 with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." Sedaka left The Tokens in 1957 to pursue a solo career and landed his first contract with RCA Victor in 1958. Also that year, Sedaka and Greenfield became among the first to sign with Don Kirshner and Al Nevins at Aldon Music and were major contributors to the renowned Brill Building sound during the late 1950s and early 1960s. He continued writing songs with Greenfield through the mid 1970s that included most of Sedaka's own early hits as well as such oldies classics as "Stupid Cupid" and "Where The Boys Are" by Connie Francis, "Puppet Man" which became a hit for both Tom Jones and The 5th Dimension, and "Love Will Keep Us Together" which topped the charts for Captain & Tennille in 1975.
Neil Sedaka made his debut on the Pop/Rock charts in 1958 with the Sedaka/Greenfield-penned "The Diary," which became a Top 20 hit. This was followed by a series of era-defining classics that included "Oh! Carol" (1959), "Stairway To Heaven" (1960), "You Mean Everything To Me" (1960), "Calendar Girl" (1960), "Little Devil" (1961), "Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen" (1961), "Next Door To An Angel" (1962), and the chart-topping "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" (1962). The following year, he had three Top 40 hits with "Alice In Wonderland" (1963), "Let's Go Steady Again" (1963), and "Bad Girl" (1963), followed by a string of minor hits through 1969. During the 1960s, Sedaka also recorded many of his songs in various foreign languages, including Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, French, and Hebrew. He was especially popular in Italy, with his Italian version of "Oh! Carol" and "Waiting For Never" topping the charts in 1960 and 1963, respectively. His English-language recordings were also quite popular internationally, especially in Japan where "One-Way Ticket To The Blues" and "Calendar Girl" topped the charts in 1959 and 1961, respectively.
After signing with Elton John's Rocket Record Company, Sedaka began a new phase of his solo career and returned to the Pop/Rock charts in 1974 with "Laughter In The Rain," which became a #1 hit. This smash was followed by "The Immigrant" (1975), "That's When The Music Takes Me" (1975), and another chart-topper, the Elton John-backed "Bad Blood" (1975). Sedaka's hits, which continued through 1980, also included a slow version of "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" (1975), "Love In The Shadows" (1976), "Steppin' Out" (1976), and a duet with his daughter Dara, "Should've Never Let You Go" (1980).
Neil Sedaka's numerous awards and accolades include a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006. He continues to perform worldwide and record actively.
- For more info on Neil Sedaka's career and current projects, visit neilsedaka.com.
- Neil Sedaka looks back over his long career in an interview with AXS (January 10, 2017).
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- Bad Blood 1975
(This song, in which Elton John provides backing vocals, topped the charts.)
- Breaking Up Is Hard To Do 1962
(This classic oldies song topped the charts and later also became a hit for the Happenings (1968), Lenny Welch (1970), the Partridge Family (1972), Heaven Bound (1972), Neil Sedaka (1975, slower remake), Con Hunley (1977, Country charts), and the American Comedy Network (1984, parody version).)
- Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen 1961
- The Immigrant 1975
- Laughter In The Rain 1974
(This song, which was written by Neil Sedaka and Phil Cody, topped both the Adult Contemporary and Pop/Rock charts.)
- Little Devil 1961
- Next Door To An Angel 1962
- Run Samson Run 1960
- Stairway To Heaven 1960
(This romantic, upbeat pop song was written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield.)
- That's When The Music Takes Me 1975
- You Mean Everything To Me 1960
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