Neil Sedaka Biography

13 March 1939, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. Pianist Sedaka began his songwriting career with lyricist Howard Greenfield in the early 50s. During this high school period, Sedaka dated Carol Klein (later known as Carole King). For a brief period, Sedaka joined the Tokens, then won a scholarship to New York’s Juilliard School of Music. In 1958, the pianist joined Don Kirshner’s Brill Building school of instant songwriters. Sedaka’s first major hit success came with ‘Stupid Cupid’, which was an international smash for Connie Francis. The same year, Sedaka signed to RCA Records as a recording artist and enjoyed a minor US hit with ‘The Diary’. The frantic follow-up, ‘I Go Ape’, was a strong novelty record, which helped establish Sedaka. This was followed by one of his most famous songs, ‘Oh! Carol’, a US Top 10 lament directed at his former girlfriend Carole King, who replied in kind with the less successful ‘Oh Neil’.

Sedaka’s solid voice and memorable melodies resulted in a string of early 60s hits, including ‘Stairway To Heaven’, ‘Calendar Girl’, ‘Little Devil’, ‘King Of Clowns’, ‘Sweet Little You’, ‘Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen’, ‘Next Door To An Angel’, and, his first US number 1, ‘Breaking Up Is Hard To Do’. These songs summed up the nature of Sedaka’s lyrical appeal. The material subtly dramatized the trials and rewards of teenage life and the emotional upheavals resulting from birthdays, break-ups and incessant speculation on the qualities of a loved one. Such songs of neurotic love had their distinct time in the early 60s, and with the decline of the clean-cut teen balladeer and the emergence of groups, there was an inevitable lull in Sedaka’s fortunes. He abandoned the pop star role but continued writing a fair share of hits over the next 10 years, including ‘Venus In Blue Jeans’ (Jimmy Clanton / Mark Wynter), ‘Working On A Groovy Thing’ (5th Dimension), ‘Puppet Man’ (Tom Jones) and ‘Is This The Way To Amarillo?’ (Tony Christie).

In 1972, Sedaka effectively relaunched his solo career with Emergence and relocated to the UK. By 1973, he was back in the British charts with ‘That’s When The Music Takes Me’. The Tra-La Days Are Over was highly regarded and included ‘Our Last Song Together’, dedicated to Howard Greenfield. With Laughter In The Rain, Sedaka extended his appeal to his homeland. The title track topped the US charts in 1974, completing a remarkable international comeback. The following year, the Captain And Tennille took Sedaka’s ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’ to the US number 1 spot and the songwriter followed suit soon after with ‘Bad Blood’ (featuring backing vocals by Elton John). The year ended with an excellent reworking of ‘Breaking Up Is Hard To Do’ in a completely different arrangement, which provided another worldwide smash. Sedaka enjoyed his last major hit during 1980 in the company of his daughter Dara on ‘Should’ve Never Let You Go’. Sedaka still tours and records on a regular basis.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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