Neil Sedaka brings classic act to the Taj Mahal

In a ca­reer that spans six dec­ades, sing­er/song­writer Neil Sedaka has gone from fame to ob­scur­ity, then back to fame again. A teen idol of the 1950s and early ’60s, Sedaka will per­form in the Arena at Trump Taj Ma­hal on Nov. 30. Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of his grand­moth­er, a con­cert pi­an­ist, Sedaka showed such mu­sic­al prom­ise that at age 9 he was ac­cep­ted as a schol­ar­ship stu­dent to the Juil­liard School of Mu­sic, study­ing to be a clas­sic­al pi­an­ist.

“I think study­ing the clas­sics gives you more cre­at­ive free­dom,” Sedaka says, “versus the early rock ‘n’ rollers who only knew four chords.”

After study­ing for sev­er­al years to be a con­cert pi­an­ist, Sedaka dis­covered he could write mu­sic and sing. Even­tu­ally, Sedaka be­came a full-fledged song­writer with his first ma­jor hit when Con­nie Fran­cis re­cor­ded Stu­pid Cu­pid in 1956.

“From then on I chose to per­form and sing my own songs,“ he re­called. He ob­vi­ously made the right de­cision be­cause he’s man­aged to sell mil­lions and mil­lions of re­cords since then.

Dur­ing his first years of singing star­dom, he rode the height of pop­ular­ity with such hits as: Cal­en­dar Girl, Oh! Car­ol, Stair­way to Heav­en, Break­ing Up Is Hard To Do and many more that have be­come a part of people’s lives.

But in 1964, the dir­ec­tion of Amer­ic­an mu­sic changed drastic­ally when the Beatles launched the Brit­ish In­va­sion, and it be­came hard for most male solo artists to con­tin­ue to pur­sue their mu­sic ca­reers. For­tu­nately, Sedaka was able to pre­vail by writ­ing hit songs for oth­er artists.

Today, claim­ing that, “All my songs are like my chil­dren,” Sedaka said if he had to name a fa­vor­ite it would be Laughter In The Rain. He said, “That song is spe­cial to me be­cause it marked my comeback song after Elton John re­dis­covered me in the ‘70s and put me on his la­bel. I’ll al­ways be grate­ful to him.”

Over the years, the ac­col­ades showered on Sedaka have been nu­mer­ous, in­clud­ing his in­duc­tion in the Song­writer’s Hall of Fame, a street named after him in his ho­met­own of Brook­lyn, and the Sammy Cahn Life­time Achieve­ment Award.

Today, Sedaka, 74, claims mu­sic has changed over the years and so has he.

“I think mu­sic­ally we’ve lost the melod­ic con­tent. As for me, I think I’ve grown, de­veloped and re­in­ven­ted my­self. But no mat­ter what I do, the pi­ano is like a mag­net that keeps draw­ing me back. The pi­ano is my in­spir­a­tion, and I think it’s what has kept me go­ing all these years.”

In ad­di­tion to his ex­tens­ive world­wide tour sched­ule, Sedaka has just re­leased The Real Neil, a CD of brand new ma­ter­i­al, in­clud­ing a few Sedaka clas­sics. The CD also marks the of­fi­cial re­lease of Man­hat­tan In­ter­mezzo, his first pi­ano con­certo. He’s also work­ing on a new Broad­way show.

“I do miss that feel­ing of in­volve­ment with the great mu­sic,” he said, “but I also have to con­tin­ue to sing and write the kind of mu­sic that I do be­cause that’s just as much a part of me. 

“I love to per­form,” he con­tin­ued. “I find it the most ex­cit­ing, ad­dict­ive thing one can do. For me, get­ting a stand­ing ova­tion in front of a live audi­ence is still one of the greatest highs of all time. It nev­er, ever goes away.”

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