Neil Sedaka was top of his game at the turn of the ’60s with songs like “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen“, “Calendar Girl” and “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do“. His brief reign as a chart-topper was cut short by the British Invasion, often attributed only to The Beatles but in U.S. Herman’s Hermits sold more records than The Beatles in 1964!
Below, Neil talks about the ‘drop-dead’ chord he borrowed from Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ for his masterpiece ‘Laughter In The Rain’ and how he wrote ‘[Is This The Way To] Amarillo’. At 4 mins, Neil recalls the story of our first meeting at Donny Kirshner’s New York office.
I was a big fan and after months of negotiating with his publisher, Donny Kirshner, I finally secured Neil Sedaka’s new song, “Is This The Way To Amarillo” for Tony Christie who had a smash hit with it in 1971.
Around that time Neil Sedaka star had faded considerably and he was performing at working mens’ clubs in the U.K. With Amarillo in the bag I re-approached him at Batley Variety Club in Yorkshire and persuaded him to record a few songs with my guys at Strawberry Studios.
In a few weeks he had recorded his comeback album Solitaire with help from Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldman, Lol Creme and Kevin Godley.
On the back of Amarillo’s success, Tony Christie also recorded the title song, “Solitaire“, but his label MCA wouldn’t use it as a follow-up . . . but Neil Sedaka recorded his own “Solitaire” at Strawberry with 10cc on his comeback album, a song which propelled him back in the limelight again.
He revisited the Strawberry team in ’73 for The Tra-La Days Are Over:
One of the well-known tracks was: “Love Will Keep Us Together“:-
The Captain and Tennille version was a No.1 on Billboard chart and biggest U.S. hit of ’75 winning the Grammy for Record of the Year.
POST NOTE . . .
Post-punks Joy Division began recording at Strawberry Studios in 1979. Aware that Neil Sedaka recorded his song “Love Will Keep Us Together” at Strawberry just a few years earlier, when the musical landscape was far less cynical, lead singer and songwriter Ian Curtis who was having an affair at the time that prompted his wife to file for divorce, subverted Sedaka’s message and its title in their hit song “Love Will Tear Us Apart“: