Neil Sedaka changed the game of music and songwriting in the ’50s and ’60s with songs like “Calendar Girl” and “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen.” So, in celebration of WCBS-FM’s 40th anniversary this weekend, we found it more than appropriate to have Neil join Dan Taylor in-studio.
Neil Sedaka had many firsts in the industry, including being the first artist to sing his own music in the historic Brill Building off of Broadway and 49th St. He said he and his partner Howie Greenfield would sit in a cubical with a piano and write music five days a week.
“Howie and I were the first in 1958 to go to the Brill building, ” he said. “1615 Broadway. There were these little cubicles with a piano and a desk and we would write from 10 in the morning til 5 in the afternoon, five days a week. It was a great way to learn your craft. I was the first in the Brill building to sing my own songs. I also brought Carol King up, we dated for about 3 minutes back in Brooklyn, so I brought her up to Aldon Music as well, and we controlled the top 10 in billboard for many years.”
When Neil was 19, he said he auditioned for Steven Shuls, who had just signed Elvis from Sun Records, and he had 10 or 11 hits in a row from 1958-1963. Even now, 54 years later, he can still remember hearing his first song, “The Diary,” on the radio in 1958 while he was driving his white, convertible Chevy Impala.
In the ’70s, Neil left for England only to end up meeting Elton John when he was starting Rocket Records. After 13 years, Neil hit the charts again with “Laughter In The Rain” from his album ‘Sedaka’s Back.’
Lately, Neil said he has been writing symphonies and working on his newest album, ‘Real Neil.’
“I just wrote a new collection called ‘Real Neil,’ which I co-produced with my friend Rob Cotto, ” he said. “It’s all new songs, and, yet again, it raises the level, it reinvents Neil Sedaka. You have to keep up with culture of the time and you have to keep with what’s going on.”
Neil said he hopes to have one more number one before he says goodbye.
–Sarah Scroggins, CBS Local/WCBS-FM
Watch the full interview below!
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