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 hits for himself and others. Sedaka's voice is an unusually high tenor.
In 1980, Neil Sedaka had a Top 20 hit with "Should've Never Let You Go," which he recorded with his daughter, Dara Sedaka.
Sedaka was born in Brooklyn, New York on 13 March 1939. His father, Mac Sedaka, a taxi driver, was the son of Turkish-Jewish immigrants; his mother, Eleanor (Appel) Sedaka, was of Polish-Russian Jewish descent.
He demonstrated musical aptitude in his second-grade choral class, and when his teacher sent a note home suggesting he take piano lessons, his mother took a part-time job in an Abraham & Straus department store for six months to pay for a second-hand upright. He took to the instrument immediately. In 1947, he auditioned successfully for a piano scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music's Preparatory Division for Children, which he attended on Saturdays. He also maintained an interest in popular music, and when he was 13, a neighbor heard him playing and introduced him to her 16-year-old son, Howard Greenfield, an aspiring poet and lyricist. The two began writing together.
The best-known Billboard Hot 100 hits of his early career are "The Diary" (#14, 1958), a song that he offered to Little Anthony and the Imperials; "Oh! Carol" (#9, 1959); "You Mean Everything to Me" (#17, 1960); "Calendar Girl" (#4, 1960); "Stairway to Heaven" (#9, 1960); "Run Samson Run" (top 30, 1960); "Little Devil" (#11, 1961); "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" (#6, 1961); "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" (#1, 1962); and "Next Door To An Angel" (#5, 1962). "Oh! Carol" refers to Sedaka's Brill Building compatriot and former girlfriend Carole King. King responded with her answer song, "Oh, Neil", which used Sedaka's full name. A Scopitone exists for "Calendar Girl". Sedaka wrote another hit, "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen", for his then close friend Annette Funicello.
In 1961 Sedaka began to record some of his hits in Italian. At first he published Esagerata and Un giorno inutile, local versions of "Little Devil" and "I Must Be Dreaming".
Neil Sedaka in the 1960s.A similar sharing came earlier with Sedaka and singer Connie Francis. As Francis explains at her concerts, she began searching for a new hit after her 1958 single "Who's Sorry Now?". She was introduced to Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, who played every ballad they had written for her. Francis began writing her diary while the two played the last of their songs. After they finished, Francis told them they wrote beautiful ballads but that they were too intellectual for the young generation. Greenfield suggested to Sedaka a song they had written that morning for a girl group. Sedaka protested, believing Francis would be insulted, but agreed to play "Stupid Cupid". Francis told them they had just played her new hit. Francis' song reached #14 on the Billboard charts.
While Francis was writing her diary, Sedaka asked her if he could read what she had written. After she refused, Sedaka was inspired to write "The Diary", his first hit single. Sedaka and Greenfield wrote many of Connie Francis' hits such as "Fallin" and "Where the Boys Are".
Between 1960 and 1962, Sedaka had eight Top 40 hits, but he was one of many American performers of the era whose popularity was decimated by the British Invasion and other changes. His commercial success declined rapidly after 1964: he scored only two minor hits in 1965; none of his 1966 singles charted; and when his RCA contract ended in 1967, it was not renewed, and he was left without a record label.
Although Sedaka's stature as a recording artist was at a low ebb in the late sixties, he was able to maintain his career through songwriting. Thanks to the fact that his publisher, Aldon Music, was acquired by Screen Gems, two of his songs were recorded by The Monkees, and other hits in this period written by Sedaka included The Cyrkle's version of "We Had a Good Thing Goin'" and "Workin' on a Groovy Thing", a Top 40 R&B hit for Patti Drew in 1968 and a US Top 20 hit for The 5th Dimension in 1969. Also, "Make the Music Play" was included on Frankie Valli's charting album Timeless.
On an episode of the quiz show I've Got a Secret in 1965, Sedaka's secret was that he was to represent the United States in classical piano at the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow, and he played "Fantasy Impromptu" on the show. Panelist Henry Morgan made a point that the Russians, at least older ones, hated rock and roll. Sedaka's participation in the competition, which Van Cliburn had won in 1958, was cancelled by the USSR because of Sedaka's rock and roll connection. .pls. enjoy!!!