Crooner Neil Sedaka keeps the music alive

Singer, songwriter, composer, pianist and living legend, Neil Sedaka, will bring his famous catalogue of music to the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on January 14 on his exclusive 12-city concert tour.

 Sedaka, 77, will be singing all of his big hits, which include “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen,” “Calendar Girl,” “Laughter in the Rain,” “Solitaire,” “Love Will Keep Us Together (also a No. 1 hit for Captain & Tennille),” and “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” among many others.

When Sedaka was not recording his own songs, he and his writing partner, lyricist Howard Greenfield, were writing for other performers, most notably in their earliest days, Connie Francis.  They were commissioned to write the title-track “Where the Boys Are” for the 1960 movie she starred in. 

The legendary Neil Sedaka is still going strong. Courtesy photo

Sedaka was 13 and Greenfield was 16 when they first met and would go on to become two of the legendary Brill Building composers in New York.

Sedaka was musically-gifted at a very young age.  When he demonstrated musical aptitude in his second-grade choral class, his teacher sent a note home suggesting he take piano lessons. 

Then in 1947, at age 8, he auditioned successfully for a piano scholarship to the Julliard School of Music’s Preparatory Division for Children, which he attended on Saturdays.  His mother wanted him to become a renowned classical pianist, but Sedaka eventually turned to pop music.

 “My mom was heartbroken when I told her that I’d rather pursue pop music writing,” Sedaka said.  “I had to wait until she was out of the house to practice and play it.  When my first check for $46,000 arrived in the mail for a song I wrote, my mom then realized I had made a good decision.  I knew pop music was where the money was.”

 Sedaka had dated Carol King (formally known as Carol Klein) when he was still in high school, which gave him the idea to use her name in a song.  “Oh! Carol” gave him his first domestic Top 10 hit, reaching No. 9 on the Hot 100 in 1959 and going to No. 1 on the Italian pop charts in 1960.

 When The Beatles took American music in a different direction, Sedaka and many others were left without a recording career.  He stayed on the sidelines for about 10 years until Elton John and his Rocket Records helped to resuscitate his career. 

They met at a party in London in 1973 and when John learned Sedaka had no American record label, he suggested Sedaka sign with his record company, and he did.  John even contributed his voice to one of Sedaka’s  songs, “Bad Blood,” another big hit.

Sedaka would eventually part ways with Rocket Records and signed with Elektra and then ended up associated with Razor and Tie Records.

 An interesting anecdote about the “Calendar Girl” music video.  “A while back, I was having lunch in Los Angeles,” said Sedaka.  “A woman came up to me and said she was one of the girls in the video.  She was an old, old lady…of course, I haven’t changed at all.”

Not only will he be singing all of the hits that made him famous over the 60 years he’s been in the music business, but he will also be singing some selections from his new acoustic album, “I Do It for Applause,” which was released in August, 2016. 

There are 11 tracks and a bonus of his first symphony, “Joie de Vivre” (Joy of Life) featuring the London Philharmonia Orchestra.  He’s written or co-written over 500 songs for himself and others.

 Off the stage, Sedaka also has a successful personal life.  He and his wife Leba have been married for 54 years and have two children.  When asked what the secret is to his long-lasting marriage, he said, “In discussions about feelings, we never hit below the belt.”

 Sedaka is an inspiration and his passion for his songs and music will continue to be felt by other artists and audiences all over the world.

 For more information, go to sabanconcerts.com.

Steven Lieberman
About Steven Lieberman 27 Articles
Steven LIeberman is a veteran sports/arts/entertainment journalist. Lieberman has covered entertainment and professional sports, Including the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, for the past 14 years. Among his entertainment work, Lieberman covers concerts, theatre and events.