Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Neil Sedaka born 13 March 1939
Neil Sedaka (born March 13, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American pop singer, pianist, and songwriter often associated with the Brill Building. He teamed up with Howard Greenfield to write many major hit songs for himself and others. Sedaka's voice is in the tenor and alto ranges.
Born in Brooklyn, New York on March 13th, 1939, Neil Sedaka was playing the piano for five hours a day by the time he was eight. While attending the Abraham Lincoln High School, Neil was selected as one of the best seven New York high school classical pianists by the legendary Arthur Rubinstein and was awarded a scholarship at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music.
Much to his mother’s apprehension, Neil was dividing his time between classical studies and pop music. In 1956, Sedaka formed a high school group called The Tokens, who were heard by record producer, Morty Craft. Neil accepted Craft's invitation to play the chimes on a recording by the Willows called "Church Bells May Ring". Craft then recorded some singles by the Tokens which became regional hits.
By the time he was 18, Neil had outgrown the group and went solo, releasing his first single on the Decca label. On "Snowtime" backed with "Laura Lee", Sedaka had multi-tracked his vocals and was one of the first artists to achieve this sound. The record went nowhere and his next single, "Ring - A- Rockin'" also failed to dent the national charts. In 1958, Morty Craft produced Connie Francis singing a song that Neil had written called "Stupid Cupid". Neil played the piano at the session. The song was an international best seller and gave Sedaka his first taste of success as a songwriter.
By late 1958, Neil was under contract to publishers Al Nevins and Don Kirshner as a songwriter at the now famous Brill Building in New York. It bristled with such talents as Neil Diamond, Carol King and Paul Simon. Neil’s demo songs were sold to other artists, but he has always wanted to record his own voice.
The following year, Sedaka signed with RCA Records as a recording artist and enjoyed a minor U.S. hit with "The Diary". The 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 lament directed at his high school 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", "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" and "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.
By 1963, after selling some 25 million records, Neil was riding the wave of international success. However, the "British Invasion" of English groups pushed him and most other male, solo artists off of the charts. His record sales progressively dwindled and after five years, his popularity in the U.S.A had faded. RCA Records however did not give up on Neil and he recorded albums in Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese and Hebrew, that sold well internationally.
When his recording contract with RCA ran out in 1966, it was not renewed and Neil signed on as a songwriter with Screen Gems - Columbia. Here he wrote " Magic Colours" for Lesley Gore, "When Love Comes Knocking at Your Door" for the Monkees, "Venus In Blue Jeans" by Jimmy Clanton, "Puppet Man" for Tom Jones and "Working On A Groovy Thing" by The Fifth Dimension.
In 1972, Sedaka relocated to England and on the strength of strong reaction to his live appearances, recorded two well received albums, "Emergence" and "Solitaire" . By 1973, he was back on the British charts with a hard driving song called "That's When The Music Takes Me".
Sedaka signed with MGM for an album called "The Tra La Days Are Over" and when the label was consumed by Polydor, Neil recorded an even greater hit album, "Laughter In The Rain". The title track was the biggest single hit in the UK during the 1970s and at a party in Neil’s Mayfair flat, Elton John offered to launch Neil’s records in the USA on his Rocket label.
In 1975, "Laughter in the Rain" was released in the United States and shot to the top of the charts, completing a remarkable international comeback. Later that same year, the Captain And Tennille took Sedaka's "Love Will Keep Us Together" to the number 1 spot in the U.S., selling over three million copies and earning a Grammy Award for Neil. Elton John then teamed up with Neil on the Top Twenty disc, "Bad Blood". The year ended with an excellent reworking of "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" in a completely different, ballad type arrangement which provided another worldwide hit. Suddenly, Neil Sedaka songs were in demand and his tune "Solitaire" became a hit for The Carpenters. Consequently, in the USA, Neil set some new heights with the number of artist's radio airplays. Out of the 140 songs which had been broadcasted over a million times in a year, three belonged to Sedaka. He was the first artist to gain six BMI Awards for 400,000 annual airplays per song.
As the 80s dawned, Sedaka enjoyed his last major hit in the company of his daughter Dara on "Should've Never Let You Go" and although he wouldn't have another chart hit, he toured constantly throughout the decade. By the time 1990 rolled around, Sedaka had shifted gears again and began to concentrate on classical music. His most memorable effort to date has been "Classically Sedaka", a one take, six live session recording, with a 75 piece symphony orchestra. (Photo of Neil and his wife Leba)
In November of 2002, an hour long program about Neil was broadcast on A & E's acclaimed Biography series. On April 29, 2004, Neil won over a whole new generation of fans when he appeared as a guest judge on the Fox Network's American Idol.
In early 2005, "Amarillo", a song originally written by Neil 30 years ago, was released by Tony Christie and rose to #1 on the British charts, where it stayed for two months. March, 2006 saw the release of "The Show Goes On: The Best of Neil Sedaka", a compilation of his all-time greatest hits. In early 2007, Sedaka signed his first recording contract in more than two decades with Razor and Tie Records, a small-but-growing, New York-based independent label.
During his 2008 Australian tour, Sedaka premiered a new classical orchestral composition entitled "Joie de Vivre (Joy of Life)." Sedaka also toured The Philippines for his May 17, 2008, concert at the Araneta Coliseum. On September 11, 2010, Sedaka performed to a public and TV audience at the Hyde Park, London, venue of the "Proms in the Park" for the BBC. The UK continues to be probably Sedaka's most welcoming nation, and has been since first moving his family there (temporarily) four decades ago.
As for Sedaka himself, he continues to tour to the delite of his fans all over the world. (info mainly www.classicbands.com)