Friday, May 15, 2009


Neil 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 a 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.

The best-known hits of his early career are "The Diary" (#14, 1958), "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. Sedaka wrote "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen", for his then close friend Annette Funicello.

In the mid 1960s the hits dried up. He made several trips to Australia to play cabaret dates, while his career overseas was waning. His second coming started while in Australia. The single "Star Crossed Lovers" became a major hit in NZ and Oz. The song went to #5 nationally in April 1969 giving Sedaka his first charting single in four years and it also came in at #5 in Go-Set magazine's list of the Top 40 Australian singles of the year 1969.

Later that year, with the support of Festival Records, he recorded a new LP of original material entitled Workin' On A Groovy Thing at Festival Studios in Sydney. It was co-produced by Festival staff producer Pat Aulton (deceased), with arrangements by John Farrar (who later achieved international fame for his work with Olivia Newton-John) and backing by Australian session musicians including guitarist Jimmy Doyle (Ayers Rock) and noted jazz musician-composer John Sangster.

The single lifted from the album, "Wheeling West Virginia", reached #20 in Australia in early 1970. The LP is also notable because it was Sedaka's first album to include collaborations with writers other than long-time lyricist Howard Greenfield. The title track featured lyrics by Roger Atkins and four other songs were co-written with Carole Bayer Sager, who subsequently embarked on a successful collaboration with expatriate Australian singer-songwriter Peter Allen.

Neil’s work has bubbled along happily ever since the Oz revival period. He still comes back to Oz frequently and during his 2008 Australian tour, Sedaka premiered a new classical orchestral composition entitled "Joie de Vivre".

One of my friends, Steve Scanes, in 1998 helped produce a CD called "Neil Sedaka Anthology - Four Decades Of Hits And More" which included many of the original Oz singles. It was from this version of
Wheeling West Virginiathat I made an extended 12" mix. It was another friend, K1W1 (Mark), who suggested this classic should be included on my blog.

Here for download is a Tom Mix extended 12” version of his hit “Wheeling West Virginia”:


  1. Tom, another Neil Sedaka 45' single which met with moderate success in Oz was 'Rainy Jane' (1969). Do you remember it. Hard to find now, and another single I recall which charted in Australia was The Neighborhood with Big Yellow Taxi. It was released at the same time as Joni Mitchell's original (1970)

  2. Yes Richard and I have both songs which have been on CD. The latter is hard to find so I might include it on the blog one day soon.


  3. Excellent post Tom ,very hard to find ,thanks mate.

  4. Tom,
    Thank you so much. I grew up in Sydney and LOVED this song as an 8-year-old kid. I finally tracked it down with your info. I guess the link no longer works. Any other way to get your extended remix? Thanks!