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Neil Sedaka Was Number One 50 Years Ago

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So what did you do in high school? Neil Sedaka met Howie Greenfield with whom he would write hundreds of songs, he dated Carol Klein who would emerge as Carol King (for whom he wrote the top ten hit “Oh Carol”), become the lead singer of the group that would evolve into The Tokens, and won a piano competition judged by Arthur Rubinstein. He may not have known it at the time but the best was yet to come.

By 1958, Sedaka and Greenfield were working regularly as songwriters. Their big break came when Connie Francis recorded their “Stupid Cupid” and it became a big hit. By the end of the year, Sedaka had embarked upon a solo career that would make him one of the stars of the pre-Beatles 1960s era. While he had a career revival during the mid-70s and continued to record and tour for 50 years, it was his early ’60s series of smooth pop hits that are memorable.

Just over 50 years ago he was scheduled to record their newest composition, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.” The night before the session he wrote the words, (well, sort of words), “Comma, comma, down-doo-be-doo-down down,” which became a catch phrase for early ’60s pop and rock and roll. It helped to propel the song to the top of the Billboard magazine Pop Singles Chart.

“Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” was a catchy up-tempo number that was just over two minutes of pop heaven. Even though it was a vocal solo, it had a wonderful doo-wop feel to it. His voice had a perfect tone for material like this. He would re-record the song during late 1974 as a slow ballad and it became a top 10 hit for the second time. The song has been covered by dozens of artists since its release but none can compare to the original. It can still be heard on oldies stations.

Neil Sedaka has produced over two dozen hits during his career, but “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” remains his signature song. It may have come from a simpler era, but 50 years ago it ruled the music world in the United States.

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