Neil Sedaka (born March 13, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American pop singer, pianist, and songwriter often associated with the Brill Building. He teamed up with Howard Greenfield to write hits for himself and others. Sedaka's voice is an unusually high tenor. Sedaka was born in Brooklyn, New York on 13 March 1939. His father, Mac Sedaka, a taxi driver, was the son of Turkish-Jewish immigrants; his mother, Eleanor (Appel) Sedaka, was of Polish-Russian Jewish descent.
He demonstrated musical aptitude in his second-grade choral class, and when his teacher sent a note home suggesting he take piano lessons, his mother took a part-time job in an Abraham & Straus department store for six months to pay for a second-hand upright. He took to the instrument immediately. In 1947, he auditioned successfully for a piano scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music's Preparatory Division for Children, which he attended on Saturdays. He also maintained an interest in popular music, and when he was 13, a neighbor heard him playing and introduced him to her 16-year-old son, Howard Greenfield, an aspiring poet and lyricist. The two began writing together.
The best-known Billboard Hot 100 hits of his early career are "The Diary" (#14, 1958), a song that he offered to Little Anthony and the Imperials; "Oh! Carol" (#9, 1959); "You Mean Everything to Me" (#17, 1960); "Calendar Girl" (#4, 1960); "Stairway to Heaven" (#9, 1960); "Run Samson Run" (top 30, 1960); "Little Devil" (#11, 1961); "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" (#6, 1961); "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" (#1, 1962); and "Next Door To An Angel" (#5, 1962). "Oh! Carol" refers to Sedaka's Brill Building compatriot and former girlfriend Carole King. King responded with her answer song, "Oh, Neil", which used Sedaka's full name. A Scopitone exists for "Calendar Girl". Sedaka wrote another hit, "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen", for his then close friend Annette Funicello.
In 1961 Sedaka began to record some of his hits in Italian. At first he published Esagerata and Un giorno inutile, local versions of "Little Devil" and "I Must Be Dreaming".
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