There aren’t many more prolific song writers in rock n’ roll history than Neil Sedaka. He has written over 700 songs in his 60 year career. Appearing at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City, the night before his 77th birthday, surprised everyone. Seventy-seven? How’s that possible? Then everyone probably thought for a moment and realized they weren’t 16 any longer. The reality had to set in that they, too, were up there in age.
Sedaka attracts an older audience. So much so that upon leaving the venue at the end of the concert, the more spry attendees had to serpentine about to pass those with walkers and canes who were slowing the exit. Yes, the youthful crowds of the “sixties” are now in their sixties, and that says much about the audience.
This guy is the consummate showman. He doesn’t just come on stage and play a bunch of songs. He takes you on a nostalgic trip to the early days of rock n’ roll. The concert begins with a movie showing all of the greats who have song his songs over the years. This list, while not all inclusive, saw Elvis, Peggy Lee, Captain and Tennille, Engelbert, Tom Jones, Johnny Mathis, and just about every great performer covering his music. Sedaka tells how he founded the Tokens of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” fame.
Sedaka told the crowd that his was the first ever music video when he showed “Calendar Girl” sung in his early years. He was the only singer to have number one hits with the same song at different tempos (“Breaking Up is Hard to Do”). One story after another kept everyone entertained throughout the evening. If you want to live your youth again just listen to his songs like, his first hit, “The Diary,” followed by “Oh! Carol” (the song he wrote for his first girlfriend, Carol King), “Stupid Cupid,” “Little Devil,” “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen,” “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” “Next Door to an Angel” and “Love will Keep Us Together.”
Sedaka told us how his career stopped when the Beatles came to town. It took 12 years before he made hits again, this time when Elton John told him he’d help him come out with a new number one hit. That hit was “Laughter in the Rain.” “Bad Blood” became another number one Billboard hit in 1975.
A standing ovation at the end encouraged Sedaka to come out for a final song. With 700 songs he could have played all night. He even joked with the audience that they didn’t have to worry, “I’m not going to play all of them.” If you get the chance to see this icon of the early days of rock, do it. The Neil Sedaka “date” will bring warmth to your hearts and its a good way to start your evening.