LAST LUNCHEON NOV. 15, 2013
Honoree: Neil Sedaka
Singer. Songwriter. Composer. Pianist. Author. These are just a few of the titles that can be used to describe Neil Sedaka, who received PPB's coveted Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award from noted composer, arranger, producer and new PPB member David Foster at our celebrity luncheon November 15 in Sportsmen's Lodge.
Neil's impressive fifty- year career ranges from being one of the first teen pop sensations of the 50’s, a relevant songwriter for himself and other artists in the 60’s, a superstar in the 70’s and remaining a constant force in writing and performing presently. This is all thanks to the countless songs he has written, performed and produced that continue to inspire artists and audiences around the world.
Neil Sedaka was born on March 13, 1939. Neil’s interest in music began at the young age of eight, when he would listen to "The Make-Believe Ballroom" on the radio. However it was not Rock and Roll, but classical music that would shape Neil into the musician he is today. By the time he was nine years old, he had already begun his intensive classical piano training at the prestigious Julliard School of Music. At 16, Arthur Rubinstein voted Neil as one of the best New York High School pianists. Though Neil considered pursuing a Doctorate in music, his next choice became his chosen vocation.
Eager to gain acceptance from his peers at Abraham Lincoln High School, Neil began performing Rock N Roll outside of his classical training. At this time, he would form the Doo-Wop group The Tokens, in which they would record two singles that would go on to be regional hits. But, it was his introduction to his young neighbor, Howard Greenfield, by Greenfield’s mother that began one of the most prolific songwriting partnerships of the last half-century, one which sold forty million records between 1959-1963.
The accolades showered on Neil Sedaka have been numerous. Among the honors he has received, Sedaka has been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, has had a street named after him in his hometown of Brooklyn and he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
With a career spanning six decades, a rare feat in the entertainment world, Sedaka never ceases to amaze. He shows no signs of slowing down. Neil has appeared on FOX’s hit Television show "American Idol" as a guest judge, and he has been a guest on hundreds of TV shows through the decades.
Sedaka has been married for fifty years to his wife, Leba, and they have two children: daughter Dara is a recording artist and vocalist for television and radio commercials, and son Marc is a successful screenwriter in Los Angeles. Neil has three grandchildren, twin granddaughters Amanda and Charlotte, and a grandson, Michael.
On the Dais: Front Row, L-R: Artie Butler, Marc Sedaka, Honoree Neil Sedaka, Marilyn McCoo, PPB Board Chair Jeanne De Vivier Brown, Back Row, L-R: Wink Martindale, Lou Gossett, Jr., David Foster, Phil Cody, Billy Davis, Jr., (David Keeler photo)