NEIL SEDAKA (b 1939 )
Neil Sedaka was born in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York, on 13 March 1939. Trained in his early years to be a classical pianist, as a teenage virtuoso he was selected by Arthur Rubinstein to play on WQXR, New York’s leading classical music station. By the age of thirteen Sedaka had also begun writing songs, setting lyrics by his high school friend Howard Greenfield, who remained his lyricist until 1972. Sedaka and Greenfield were original creators of the “Brill Building” sound in the late 1950s and early ’60s, when they were the first to sign with Don Kirshner and Al Nevins at Aldon Music, which went on to sign Neil Diamond, Carole King and Paul Simon. In 1958, Sedaka and Greenfield had their first major songwriting success with Stupid Cupid, which Connie Francis recorded. Early hits included The Diary, I Go Ape, and Oh! Carol in 1959; Stairway To Heaven in 1960; and, in 1961, Calendar Girl, Little Devil, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen, and Where the Boys Are, which Connie Francis sang in the hit teen movie of the same title. In 1962, Breaking Up is Hard to Do, which became Sedaka’s signature song, was his first song to reach No. 1 in the charts, with Next Door to an Angel climbing to No. 5 that year. Beyond the US and UK, he also enjoyed great success in Italy, Latin America, Japan and Australia. The arrival of The Beatles and the British Invasion caused a temporary decline in Sedaka’s career from the mid-1960s until the mid-1970s, when Sir Elton John signed him to Rocket Records, which led to the No. 1 hits Laughter In the Rain and Bad Blood, and a revival that has lasted ever since. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sedaka’s show business début, a Lincoln Center concert in October 2007 emceed by David Foster featured Connie Francis, Natalie Cole, The Captain and Tennille, and Clay Aiken. During his long career, Sedaka has also had close associations with Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Carole Bayer Sager, The Carpenters, and many other pop stars.