Neil Sedaka Biography

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Neil Sedaka in 1965

Neil Sedaka in 1965. Source Wikipedia.

Neil Sedaka is an American Pop and Rock Singer, a reputable Songwriter and Composer. He was born on March 13th, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York. His paternal grandparents were born in Istanbul, Turkey, but later moved to New York in 1910. Neil Sedaka was brought up in Brighton Beach. His surname, Sedaka, in Hebrew means charity.

His dad, Mac Sedaka, was a taxi driver and a Jew from Lebanon ancestry. Neil’s mom, Eleanor, was of Polish-Russian heritage. Neil was brought in the Jewish traditions and he passionately embraces the Jewish culture.

Neil Sedaka’s musical endowment was discovered when he was in second grade music class. His teacher upon discovering his aptitude sent a message to his parents to let Sedaka take piano lessons. When he auditioned for a piano scholarship to the Julliard School of Music in 1947, his performance was outstanding. And by the time he was nine, he had been undertaking serious classical piano training at the school.

One day at age thirteen, a neighbor heard him playing the piano and was so impressed that he introduced Sedaka to her child, Howard Greenfield, who was just sixteen, but a passionate aspiring poet and writer. When he became sixteen, Neil Sedaka was selected as one of the best pianists in New York High School.

Sedaka and Greenfield teamed up and became the origin of the unique sound of the Brill Building in the late 50s and early 60s. Therefore, they were the first to sign up with Aldon Music, and they were the dominating power of the pop world.

After his graduation from high school in 1956, Sedaka and some of his classmates started a band named The Tokens. However, in 1957, Sedaka started his solo career. He released three singles which were not very successful but Ring-a-Rockin secured him several appearances on American Bandstand. The solo singles proved his uniqueness as a solo singer and got signed by RCA Victor to a recording deal.

With both hits and misses, Sedaka’s singles for RCA finally got traction on the Bill board Hot 100. Having confirmed his success in Pop/Rock Music in 1958, Sedaka kept releasing hit songs from 1960 to 1962. He had over 30 hit songs to his credit including “You Mean Everything to Me”, “Next Door to an Angel”, “Run, Samson, Run”, “Calendar Girl”, “Little Devil”, “Breaking up Is Hard to Do”, “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen” and “Stairway to Heaven”.

Unfortunately, by the time The Beatles took over the music arena, the trend of the American music took a different course, and it robbed Sedaka of continued success as a performer. It became extremely hard for most male solo artists to survive; but Sedaka was gifted enough to prevail due to his many talents as a songwriter. He wrote successful songs for artists including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Fifth Dimension among others. Sedaka and Greenfield however jointly approved to dissolve their partnership by releasing “Our Last Song Together”.

Neil Sedaka realizing that the trend was no longer favorable moved his family to the UK in the early 1970s. Redefining himself as a solo performer, Sedaka released the album Emergence in 1972 in the UK. Elton John signed him to his Rocket Records. He wrote two albums for Rocket in 1974 and 1975. They were among the top selling albums in the world then. In 1976, Sedaka released Steppin Out, his last album for Rocket Record.

In 1975, his song, Breaking Up Is Hard to Do was re-arranged and re-produced in a ballad form. And it stood on No. 1 on music charts, thereby setting a record as the first track recorded in two different styles by the same performer to make No. 1. During this time, Sedaka was instrumental to the successful start of the career of Captain and Tennille with a song that won a Grammy Award as the Album of the Year.

In 1983, Sedaka was welcomed into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

In 2007, Sedaka signed his first recording deal in close to twenty years with Razor and Tie Records, an independent company established in New York. In 2007, he released an album that was  a collection of his hit songs and in 2009 he released Waking Up Is Hard to Do as his second album with Razor and Tie Records.

Early in 2011, Sedaka made two duets with singer Jim Van Slyke .

He got married to Leba in 1962, and they are blessed with two children, Dara and Marc, a daughter and son respectively.

Greenfield, Sedaka’s late partner, was openly gay and people started to suspect that Neil Sedaka was a gay also, although he did not confess to it. People believed that Greenfield may not have been the only gay in the Brill Building, but that he was the most famous one. People who suspect Neil Sedaka is gay claim that his behaviors were suspicious and also was rumored to have a secret Russian boyfriend. Those who believe Neil Sedaka is straight point to the fact that he’s married and has kids.  Sedaka however did not comment on the speculation to the question is Neil Sedaka gay?

If you’re a fan of Neil Sedaka, you may want to check out singer/songwriter Phil Dutra and get free song downloads! As the Atlanta weekly Creative Loafing says, Phil Dutra delivers “Passionate performances of some truly catchy songs”!

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