Coming from a doo wop background, yet classically trained, Neil Sedaka composed more than a 1,000 tunes, including a dozen major pop hits he corded between 1959 to 1963 that were co-authored with Howard Greenfield, his lyrist until 1972.
Born in Brooklyn, New York on March 13th 1939, Neil Sedaka began his interest in music at the age of four, by listening to the radio program, The Make - Believe Ballroom. At the age of 8, Neil began playing the piano for five hours a day. A year later, Neil’s music teacher at the Juilliard Prep School, encouraged Mac and Eleanor to buy their son a piano. Neil had set his sights on being a Doctor of Classical Music. As a teenager, Sedaka was selected by Arthur Rubenstein to play on a show on New York's classical music station WQRX. By that time he had become strongly attracted popular music as well and had by age thirteen begun writing songs to lyrics by high school friend Howie Greenfield. He also formed the Tokens, which later had a hit with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
In 1958, whilst playing at the Esther Manor near Monticello in New York state, Neil met 16 year old Leba Strassberg daughter of the owners, Esther and Irving. Neil knew he was going to marry Leba before he even spoke to her! Neil being ever true to his word did so at the Manor in 1962. This highly competent businesswoman has been Neil’s auxiliary driving force and his manager since the mid - 70s. Leba has said that, "Neil may not be the world’s greatest songwriter, singer or performer, but nobody can do all three better."
While on a two year scholarship to Julliard School In New York, Sedaka sold his first song, "Stupid Cupid," a hit for Connie Francis in 1958, as was his "Where the Boys Are, (which Francis sang in the hit teen movie of the same name) in 1961. He also sold Sedaka-Greenfield songs to Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records who placed them with R&B singers LaVern Baker and Clyde McPhatter. On the advice of Doc Pomus Sedaka signed with Don Kirshner's Aldon Records. Kirshner liked Sedaka's voice and got him a recording contract with RCA Records. In 1959 he had two hits "The Diary" (#14) and "I Go Ape" (#42). More hits followed. "Oh! Carol" (#9) in 1959; "Stairway To Heaven" (#9) in 1960; "Calendar Girl" (#4), "Little Devil (#11) and "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" (#6) in 1961; "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" (#1) and "Next Door to an Angel" (#5) in 1962.
Sedaka's career slowed down in 1963. However, through the Sixties and early Seventies he and Greenfield continued to write songs for others including the Fifth Dimension's "Working on a Groovy Thing" and Davy Jone's "Rainy Jane". Sedaka split with Greenfield in 1963 after he had begun a performing comeback in England. Sedaka made three albums in England. Elton John helped him get back on the U.S. charts by reissuing songs from the British albums on one U.S. album "Sedaka's Back" and then having him record for his Rocket label. Sedaka's Back (#23 1972) and The Hungry Years (#16) 1975) both went gold. "Laughter in the Rain" was a #1 hit in 1974 and his "Love Will Keep Us Together (co-written with Greenfield) was a number #1 hit for the Captain and Tennille, winning a 1075 Grammy as the Record of the Year.
Sedaka had a #1 record with "Bad Blood" in 1975, which featured John on backing vocals, a bluesy reworking of "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" (#8 1976) and "Love in the Shadows" (#16 1976). In 1980 Sedaka and his daughter Dara recorded "Should've Never Let You Go'" which reached #19 on the pop chart.
Management inquiries to:-
Neil Sedaka Music
201 East 66th Street