March 13th is a milestone birthday for Neil Sedaka, who turns 80 years old! The Brooklyn native has amassed a more than 60 year career as a singer, pianist, composer, and record producer. Neil has written or co-written over 500 songs for himself and others. His first hit was “The Diary” in 1958. After RCA Records almost dropped Neil when his 3rd single failed to make the chart, Sedaka studied the 3 biggest hit singles of the time, examining their chord progressions, structure, lyrics, and harmonies.
He came up with “Oh Carol”, which gave him his first Top 10 hit. Of course, Neil’s signature song is “Breaking’ Up Is Hard To Do”, which went to Number 1 in 1962, as an uptempo pop tune. In the 1970’s, Neil re-worked it and brought it out as a beautiful, sad ballad. The result was a Number 8 hit in early 1976, and the only time an artist has reached the Top 10 with both versions of an entirely re-interpreted song.
Here’s Neil in concert in the 1970’s, doing a great job on “Breaking’ Up Is Hard To Do”.