CLEARWATER - Ruth Eckerd Hall announces legendary singer, songwriter, composer, pianist and author Neil Sedaka returns to Ruth Eckerd Hall on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2 p.m.
Neil Sedaka’s impressive fifty-plus year career ranges from being one of the first teen pop sensations of the ‘50s, a relevant songwriter for himself and other artists in the ‘60s, a superstar in the ‘70s and remaining a constant force in writing and performing presently. Thanks to all the countless songs he has written, performed and produced, he continues to inspire artists and audiences around the world.
Sedaka catapulted into stardom after Connie Francis recorded his Stupid Cupid. She then sang the theme song Sedaka and long-time friend and co-writer Howard Greenfield had written for the 1960 MGM spring break classic Where the Boys Are, which would be her biggest hit.
Rhythm and blues stars Clyde McPhatter and LaVern Baker also scored hits with his songs. As a result, Sedaka was able to sign a contract with RCA Records as a writer and performer of his own material and soon recorded chart-toppers The Diary, Oh! Carol, Stairway to Heaven, Calendar Girl, Little Devil, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen, Next Door To An Angel and Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, songs that have become a part of peoples’ lives and can instantly take listeners back to special moments. His music became distinguished for a unique recording style involving multi-tracking his own voice.
In 1964, American music changed drastically when The Beatles launched The British Invasion. It became very hard for most male solo artists to continue to pursue their career in music. Due to his many talents as a songwriter, Sedaka was able to prevail, writing hit songs for such artists including Frank Sinatra (The Hungry Years), Elvis Presley (Solitaire), Tom Jones (Puppet Man), The Monkees (When Love Comes Knocking At Your Door), and The Fifth Dimension (Workin’ on a Groovy Thing).
Sedaka’s journey continued in the UK with the release of his album Emergence in 1972. This was the first step of redefining himself as a solo artist. It was Elton John who decided to sign Sedaka to his up and coming record label Rocket Records and began to re-introduce Sedaka to American audiences with two album releases, Sedaka’s Back (1974) and The Hungry Years (1975), both became top selling albums around the world.
His comeback was further heralded by two of his songs co-written with Phil Cody, Bad Blood and the quintessential Laughter in the Rain, both reaching No. 1 on the music charts.
In Rolling Stone magazine, Sedaka was hailed as “the new phenomenon.” The song Breaking Up Is Hard To Do was re-released as a ballad in 1975, and made music history when it reached No. 1 on the charts, becoming the first song recorded in two different versions by the same artist to reach #1. During this time, Neil also helped to launch the career of The Captain and Tennille with their version of his Love Will Keep Us Together, which won a GRAMMY® Award for Record of the Year for this worldwide, No. 1 hit.
The accolades showered on Neil Sedaka have been numerous, inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, a street named after him in his hometown of Brooklyn and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 2004, he received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame at the organization’s 35th annual induction and awards ceremony in New York. Named for the former President of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, this award is given to individuals in recognition of their outstanding achievements in furthering the successes of songwriters.
With a career spanning six decades, a rare feat in the entertainment world, Neil never ceases to amaze. He shows no signs of slowing down. He’s appeared on FOX’s hit television show American Idol as a guest judge. In 2006, Neil concluded a 10-city tour of the United Kingdom, where he filmed a live concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall for PBS. During this historical evening, Sedaka was presented with The Guinness Award for his song (Is This the Way to) Amarillo, as the best selling single of the 21st century in the UK, a song that was originally performed by Tony Christie more than 40 years ago.
In 2007, he released The Definitive Collection, a career-spanning retrospective released in honor of his 50th anniversary in show business. The Definitive Collection debuted at No. 22 on the Billboard chart, marking the first time Neil had appeared on the chart since 1980. That same year, Neil was honored with a tribute at Avery Fisher Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center. A benefit for The Elton John AIDS Foundation, Neil Sedaka: 50 Years of Hits, showcased Sedaka’s songs, with performances by Connie Francis, Dion, Paul Shaffer, Natalie Cole, Clay Aiken, Renee Olstead, and Captain and Tennille. Sir Elton John and Barry Manilow sent video tributes in their absence.
Inspired by his grandchildren and with the collaboration with his family, Sedaka released Waking Up is Hard to Do, a collection of his hits that has been reinvented as children’s songs.
Since the release of the CD, Imagine Publishing has begun releasing a series of books based on these songs, Waking Up is Hard to Do (2010) and its follow up Dinosaur Pet, featuring new lyrics to Calendar Girl written by Sedaka’s son Marc. Dinosaur Pet peaked at No. 3 on The New York Times bestseller list.
In 2010, Sedaka was awarded The Special International Award from The Ivors, honoring excellence in songwriting and was the Variety Club’s recipient of The Silver Heart Award, for his outstanding service to the music industry and his charitable work. That same year, the critically acclaimed musical, Laughter in the Rain, that chronicled Neil’s rise, fall and rise again, toured throughout the United Kingdom.
In 2013 Sedaka released his first acoustic album, The Real Neil, a CD of brand new Sedaka material, including a few Sedaka classics. All of these ventures will no doubt add to his legend – that of a consummate musician, an extraordinary vocalist and an ageless songwriting talent.
Reserved tickets priced at $39, $50 and $80 are available at the Ruth Eckerd Hall Ticket Office located at 1111 McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater or by calling 727-791-7400 and online at www.RuthEckerdHall.com 24/7.