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Neil Sedaka Biography
Neil Sedaka is an American pop singer, pianist, composer and record producer. His music career began in 1957 as a short-lived founding member of the Tokens. He has sold millions of records as an artist and written or co-written over 500 songs for himself and others. Collaborating mostly with lyricists Howard Greenfield and Phil Cody. He was born on March 13th, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York.
Neil Sedaka Age
Neil was born 13th March 1939 ( he is 80 years old as of 2019 ) He was born to Mac Sedaka his father who was a taxi driver and a Sephardi Jew of Turkish origin. Neil’s mother, Eleanor, was an Ashkenazi Jew of Polish and Russian origin.
Neil Sedaka Wife
Neil is married to Leba Sedaka they have been married since 1962. Together they have two children a daughter Dara whose a recording artist and vocalist for television and radio commercials. Also a son Marc whose a screenwriter.
Neil Sedaka Education
Neil graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School Neil and his friends.
He and some of the classmates formed a band called the Linc-Tones.
Neil Sedaka Career
It had minor hits such as I Love My Baby and Don’t Go before Neil launched a solo career. He left the group in 1957. The Linc-Tones later renamed itself the Tokens.
Neil first three singles failed to become hits but they demonstrated his ability to perform as a solo artist. He was signed by RCA Victor to a recording contract. His first single working with RCA Victor was The Diary it was inspired by Connie Francis. His second single was a novely tune I Go Ape. just missed the Top 40, peaking at No. 42 but it became a more successful single in the United Kingdom with a No. 9.
Neil then bought the three best singles of the time and listened to them repeatedly studying their song structure, chord progressions, lyrics, and harmonies before writing his next songs. His first top ten hit Oh Carol! was reached No. 9 on the Hot 100 in 1959. In the UK, the song spent a total of 17 weeks in the top 40, peaking at No. 3.
After establishing himself he kept churning new hits from 1960 to 1962. His flow of Top 30 hits during this period included: “Stairway to Heaven”; “You Mean Everything to Me” “Run, Samson, Run”; “Calendar Girl” RCA Victor issued four LP of his own works in the United States and Great Britain during this period.
Neil Sedaka PhotoNeil Sedaka Photo
Neil Sedaka Writing
When Neil was not recording his own songs he and Howard were writing for other performers mostly during their earlier days. Francis began searching for a new hit
Neil Sedaka Foreign Language Recordings
Neil was very popular in Italy Many of his English-language records were released there and proved quite successful, especially “Crying My Heart Out For You”. 1961, Sedaka began to record some of his hits in Italian, starting with “Esagerata” and “Un giorno inutile”, local versions of “Little Devil” and “I Must Be Dreaming”. Other recordings were to follow, such as “Tu non-lo sai”
Neil Sedaka Songs
Neil Sedaka Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
Neil Sedaka Bad Blood
Its a popular song written by Neil and Phil Cody. The song, with uncredited backing vocals by Elton John, reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975, remaining in the top position for three weeks. It was certified gold by the RIAA and was the most successful individual commercial release in Sedaka’s career.
Neil Sedaka Oh Carol
Its an international hit written by Neil Sedaka in 1958. The song was co-written with Howard Greenfield. The song reached #9 in the American charts in 1959. It also earned Sedaka his first #1 ranking when it went to #1 on the Italian charts for four weeks in January 1960. After release of single, it was included in the album Neil Sedaka Sings Little Devil and His Other Hits.
Neil Sedaka Networth
Neil net worth is estimated to be 300 million dollars which he got from his career as a singer, composer, and pianist.
Neil Sedaka Twitter
Neil Sedaka Interview
NEIL SEDAKA: “Good morning, John.”
LEHIGH VALLEY MUSIC: How are you?
“Fine. Where are you calling from?”
“Oh, played there many, many times.”
We actually spoke the last time you played in our area. It was 6 ½, 7 years ago. You played the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“That’s right. And I’m going back to Bethlehem April the 12th.”
That’s correct – that’s why we’re talking. You’re going to be getting an honorary degree.
“I’m very honored, yes. I never finished school when I was going to the Juilliard College to be a concert pianist. I went to the prep school for eight years and then the college for two years and then I changed directions and started writing and singing my own songs.
“But I’m very, very honored. This will go right on top of my mantle, right on top of the wall. I’m thrilled with it.”
Have you ever gotten this type of honor before?
“No, I have not. I have a Songwriters Hall of Fame and I have a street named after me in Brooklyn, New York. And I have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
I knew that.
“On the corner of Sunset and Vine.”
“Yes. But this is a great honor. People are singing my songs that evening. And my friend Jeffrey Beagle, who’s a great concert pianist, is going to be playing my concerto ‘Manhattan Intermezzo.’”
Yeah, I actually exchanged emails with Jeffrey. Fascinating story that you guys attended Juilliard like 20 years apart or something like that.
“Yes, he’s younger, unfortunately [laughs].”
“Good for him. Um, yes, we both studied with Adele Markus, who’s a great teacher. And then I studied with Edgar Roberts. I had every intention of becoming a concert pianist. And I asked Jeffrey years ago, ‘If I ever write a piano concerto, Will you play it? And he’s been playing it all over the country. So I’m very thrilled about that.
“I recorded it with the London Philharmonic in England on a recording. And it’s full circle. I went back to my roots. My son as after me – he said, ‘You know, you’re a very studied musician, why don’t you try writing something serious, something classical?
“So I wrote a symphony called ‘Joie de Vivre,’ and a piano concerto, ‘Manhattan Intermezzo,’ which Jeffrey will be playing.”
And that appeared on your last album, “I Do It For Applause,” yes?
“That’s correct, as a bonus track, yes.”
Right. So talk a little bit more about that. You have never written classical music before?
“No. I’ve written over 700 pop songs. A lot of Top 10s, several No. 1s, and became an international singing star, singing my own compositions. But I never – I only did thing things in school, little exercise things. This is the first major time. I wrote a couple of symphonic pieces and the ‘Manhattan Intermezzo.’ I’m very proud of that.
“Not too many pop singers can say that.”
I’ll say. I mean, I guess Billy Joel is no starting to rite classical – or tried, at least. But I can’t think of a single one beyond him.
“McCartney has done it, as well.”
Well, that’s true, you’re right I forgot about that.
“But without blowing my own horn, I have the musical training. I studied many, many years. Matter of fact, in 1956 Arthur Rubenstein, the great pianist, chose me on a radio program to be a – it was competition and I one it as the best New York City high school pianist. I was 16 years old – and I have a copy of it somewhere – WQXR, the classical music station, had me play as the winner of the competition.”
Wow. OK, since we mentioned “I Do It for Applause,” let me ask you about that. To me – this is still astonishing – that late-career artists who have been around a long time – seem not that interested in recording ne music, but you did.
And why is that? What were you looking to do?
“The last two albums were – I felt there was still more creativity in me. I think most of the big names in those years stopped writing because – and I can tell you personally – it was a great thrill to see it in Billboard magazine, it was a great thrill to hear it on the radio, it was a great thrill to be on a television show with Carol Burnett or Sonny and Cher, but that doesn’t exist. None of those exist anymore. And there are downloads, but that’s about it.
“So there’s really – it takes away some of the excitement. You know, I was, I have people at parties and I sit down and play these songs, and they say, ‘Oh, why don’t we hear them?’ I say, ‘Well, just go to the computer and you can punch it in and hear it.’
“But a lot of that excitement has been taken away.”
Yeah, absolutely. And I speak with young artists, I speak with mid-career artists, I speak with older artists – and it’s always the same thing. It’s like there’s no clear way to be heard anymore. I mean even established artists aren’t putting out new music ‘cause there’s no great way to be heard.
“Yes. But of course there are still the wonderful recordings of the new ones – Taylor Swift, Charlie Puth, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, Megan Trainer. These are very talented young people ‘cause they’re melodists. You know, you can understand the words and they are well-constructed songs.
“Most of the music today, I’m afraid it’s unintelligeable. It’s for dancing, it’s for discos and parties with a heavy production for dancing. And very few are – you know, my heroes were George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rogers. These are the people who I looked up to.
“So being in the Brill Building, I was taught to write these well-constructed songs.”
Yeah, and you hit it right on the nose as far as I’m concerned – ‘melodists’ is the correct word. I mean, that largely, from my viewpoint, is missing from music. And when you do have a song like that, you can hear how much better it is.
“Absolutely. I’m from that era. Matter of fact, my friend David Foster said recently on a recent English BBC special on my life, he said, he writes songs – David writes songs – that everyone in the world knows. But Neil Sedaka writes songs that people sing.”
“Which is very nice to hear.”
Yeah, that’s a great point. Um, the last time we talked, you made a point about your longevity. And you attributed it to your ability to evolve and re-invent yourself.
And as we talked – you’ve now done classical – but in between there, you did everything. You did pop music, you did Adult Contemporary music. You wrote so many songs for others. How did that evolution take place? Was it just something that naturally happened?
“Well, I was off the charts for about 12 years, and I met Elton John in England, who was starting a record company – he was a big fan. He signed me to his Rocket Records.
“And I had to reinvent Neil Sedaka. I couldn’t keep repeating “Calendar Girl’ and ‘Breaking Up is Hard to Do’ over and over. I listened to James Taylor, I listened to Gordon Lightfoot. My old friend Carol King, Joni Mitchell. And they were inspiring me to reinvent myself.
“So I had that album, ‘Sedaka’s Back,’ and ‘Laughter in the Rain’ went to No. 1 after so many years of being off the chart. It was a great thrill – I will always be eternally grateful to Elton for that. He really promoted the record.
“But I did children’s albums, I did albums in six languages. I did a classical album where I put words to Rachmaninoff, Chopin and Schumann and Beethoven. You know, I really did the whole schmear.”
[Laughs] That’s for sure. You mentioned Captain and Tenille. Did you still have any connection with them? I know that Daryl Dragon had passed in January.
“Unfortunatelly yes. I was talking to Toni Tenille over the years. We were good friends for quite a while. I’m very thrilled how Howie Greenfield and I wrote their song ‘Love Will Keep Us Together.’ Actually I did it first in an album in England. And then it was on the ‘Sedaka is Back’ album. And an A&R man from A&M Records, Chip Cohn, heard my record and played it for the Captain and Tenille.
“And they fell off their chair – they couldn’t … they said, ‘We’re running in the studio tomorrow to record this song.’ It was a great record. It won a Grammy and was the most-programmed of 1975.”
Back to the idea of recording music: Do you expect that you’ll record again?
“I don’t think so. Maybe some more classical music. Maybe some operatic music – you know, the way some of the great composers did their song cycles, you know? People singing, and I’m just a piano behind them. There are so many great composers who have done that. I might have the courage to go back, yeah.’
Another thing you mentioned – the song “Laughter in the Rain.” I think the last time we talked, the British stage production of “Laughter in the Rain” was going to open. Has that ever played the United States?
“Uh, no . Unfortunately it played for regional theaters in England for about six, seven months. It never went to the West End. The producers dropped the ball.
“Then there is a play that I don’t endorse – there’s a play called ‘Breaking Up is Hard to Do’ that plays all over the world. It’s not about my life, but it has 25 of my songs. And I was screwed over royally. I met with these people and I got so excited that I was going to see a theater production of 25 of my songs sewn into a new script that I went along with it and I got zilch – I got nothing for it.
“So I don’t endorse it.”
Oh, I’m sorry. That’s horrible, that’s horrible.
OK, so back to where we started with the honorary degree: And I’m looking at the reasons for you getting this, and they’re obvious. But I’ve never had the opportunity to ask someone this: What’s it like to have a career of more than 60 years?
“It feels like 150 years.”
“Because I went to every country in the world. I was very, very lucky. I was in the right place at the right time.
“How does it feel? When I hear a song I wrote 50 years ago on the radio, it’s still a thrill. You know, it’s a legend, but it’s a living legend. [Laughs] I’ll be 80 next week, and I think the music has kept me young. I get emails from all over the world – people who are not well emotionally or physically, they say, ‘We play your old records and it makes us so happy.’ Music has that therapeutic ability to do that.”
“It’s quite a body of work – it’s over 700 songs. I started at 13 years old – Oct. 11, 1952. Howie Greenfield was a 16-year-old poet, lived in my building in Brighten Beach, Brooklyn. He knocked at my door and said, ‘You want to write songs?’ I said, ‘I don’t know how to write songs.’
“He convinced me – I’m so glad. Because we wrote for Atlantic Records at the beginning – Clyde McFadden, Lavern Baker, The Cookies. And then I was at the Brill Building – I brought Carole King, who was a girlfriend of mine, up to the Brill Building and they signed her.
“And then I auditioned for RCA Victor Records in 1958 with a song called ‘The Diary,’ and lo and behold I had almost 10 Top 10 records in a row for RCA.”
Yeah, that’s amazing.
“That was amazing. And then nothing until ‘Laughter in the Rain.’”
You beat me to the punch to wish you a happy birthday.
You know, I looked online, and at 80, you still have a healthy performance schedule.
“I’m doing about eight concerts a year, yes. If the people still want to hear the songs and I get paid, and I can sing, I will get up and do a few. I pick and choose the ones I like – the easiest travel, you know? And it’s marvelous to be part of their life. The nostalgia quality is wonderful, and I get a lot of young people see me on YouTube or their grandparents or parents play the old 45 records, and they come as well.”
I asked you last time this same question, but I’m going to ask it again ‘cause it’s later – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame …
“Oh no, that’s out of my hands. I’m not sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, so I doubt whether I’ll ever be in that. They considered me bubble gum music, which I don’t think is fair. They were well-constructed songs, and I was the beginning of the foundation of rock ‘n’ roll.”
“Billy Joel calls me the Davey Crockett of rock ‘n’ roll.”
“Yeah. And, you know, I did influence many people over the years. I was the first to do multiple voices – I learned it from Les Paul and Mary Ford and Kay Star and Patty Page and Rosemary Clooney – they used to do multiple voices. I love harmony anyway.”
Well, listen Neil, they told me to keep it to 15 minutes and we’re already past hat. Is there anything I didn’t ask that you’d like to see in my story?
“Well, let’s see: I was thrilled that I was able to do this for this length of time and bring joy to people with the gift that I was given. And it’s still amazing to me – I was the first American rock ‘n’ roll to go to the Far East – Japan, China, Philippeans, Australia, South America, England.
“So it is amazing how the fans have become, still, very faithful. You know, they program me on their private programmers – maybe on a trip in a car, or when they’re having their vodka at night. It’s very nice.
“I think the reason that my music is so special is it was a combination of show music, pop music, evergreen standards and rock. It’s like me and Phil Cody and Carole Sager and Howie Greenfield – we had a combination of all of those styles.
“And Stevie Wonder once came to me and said, ‘You know, you’re a product of all the music you’ve heard all your life. And it’s so true.
“And I was blown over – I saw Stevie Wonder not long ago on television, and they said, ‘Who is your inspiration?’ And he said, ‘Neil Sedaka.’ I said, ‘Oh my gosh, the high priest of everything – he’s the greatest that ever lived – he said they used to call me ‘Whitey’ in Detroit because I liked and played Neil Sedaka records.”
What: Honored with a doctorate of music degree and concert of his music by renowned pianist Jeffrey Biegel, accompanied by a full orchestra of students, faculty and professional musicians.
When: 7:30 p.m. April 12
Where: Moravian’s Foy Hall, 342 Main St, Bethlehem.
Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students and seniors.