Neil Sedaka is 84 years old and he still looks great

Neil Sedaka has been married to his true love for nearly 61 years, so he doesn’t have a lot of experience when it comes to saying that “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.”

The attractive “down doobie do down down” singer, who recently celebrated his 84th birthday and melted hearts with his vocals, is gushing about his grandchildren and is overjoyed to have been “born married to his wife.”

How could Neil Sedaka be loved by anyone? The amazing vocalist has blessed us with his voice and presence for many years. He has given us so much.

Naturally gifted, Neil Sedaka has written and recorded some of the most memorable songs in pop history. However, he once admitted that he was shy around public singing as a child.

“I knew I had a remarkable voice, but I was embarrassed because it was so high,” Sedaka shared. “But when I sang at my bar mitzvah the rabbi was in tears.”

The pianist, who had received classical training and was enrolled in Julliard’s Preparatory for Children’s Saturday scholarship program at the age of 13, teamed up with 16-year-old Howard Greenfield to write music for Sedaka’s school band, the Linc-Tones, which would eventually change its name to the Tokens.

Working from New York’s historic Brill Building, the duo went on to write chart-topping hits like Sedaka’s “Breaking up is Hard to Do,” Captain & Tenille’s “Love will keep us Together” and Connie Francis’ “Stupid Cupid.”

“We had a cubicle with a piano and a bench but no window. You only got a room with a window after you’d had a hit song,” Sedaka said, adding the pair were earning $50 a week. “Every day from 9 am to 5 pm we’d write and then we’d play what we’d written to people from record labels. It was hard but it was wonderful training.”

Inspired by his high school girlfriend Carole King, he was the first person at the building to record his own songs and become the first to have his hit song “Oh! Carol” (1959) reach the Top 10.

Greenfield, who was openly gay, worked with Sedaka until the middle of the 1970s. In 1986, Greenfield passed away due to complications from AIDS.

Regarding Sedaka, he left The Tokens at the age of 19, just before the group achieved its greatest success in 1961 with the songs “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Tonight I Fell in Love.”

His first three solo albums didn’t do well on the charts, but he managed to get a spot on American Bandstand with Dick Clark thanks to a song, and he soon signed a record deal.

“The Diary” became his first hit single and peaked at number 14 in the Billboard Top 100 in 1958. Sedaka wrote the song after reading Connie Francis’ diary, which inspired him to “look into that little book.” With the release of “Calendar Girl,” Sedaka’s sixth hit in two years, in 1960, his star power was soaring.

He got married to Leba Strassberg in 1962 after meeting her while doing a show at the now-closed Esther Manor resort in the Catskill Mountains of New York.

Leba’s mother, Esther, was a businesswoman who co-owned the resort and didn’t like that her daughter was being courted by a humble musician.

The couple endured with Eleanor Sedaka, another meddling mother, while remaining together in spite of Esther’s disapproval.

Eleanor, who had previously admitted to riding rollercoasters while expecting her child in the hopes of miscarrying, was encouraging her son to become a classical pianist rather than a pop star.

“She soon changed her mind when I got a royalty cheque for $62,000 for “Stupid Cupid.” My father was a taxi driver and never made more than $10,000 a year,” Sedaka said, adding that he made the mistake of giving the money to his mom, who along with her lover later controlled most of his rights as an artist, including his royalties and finances.

“My father knew about him and accepted him so after the initial shock so did I. I even understood it, in a way. My parents lived in two rooms with nine other relatives and my dad was very thrifty whereas the other man bought her jewels and furs and took her to nice places.” He continued, “Only they were living the high life on my money. They went through hundreds of thousands of dollars. I couldn’t pay my taxes, anything. My wife and I had to start from scratch.”

Firing his mother’s boyfriend, Sedaka explained that Eleanor almost overdosed on sleeping pills “because she couldn’t stand to see her son and her lover at odds. She said she didn’t realize it was the money they were spending. I didn’t speak to her for a year.”

At that point, his devoted wife took on the role of manager for him.

Sedaka’s popularity was about to take a hit when The Beatles appeared on the scene.

Even though he kept writing songs for other people, he moved Leba and their two kids, Marc and Dara, to London, the hitmaker mecca, because of his declining chart appeal in the United States.

Referring to his slide in fame, Sedaka said: “Well, I used to walk down the street and people asked, ‘Didn’t you used to be Neil Sedaka?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m still Neil Sedaka, you haven’t heard the last of me.’ I had to change my style. It was the early ‘70s, and I met a guy by the name of Elton John. Did you ever hear of him?”

Sedaka, who met the singer of “I’m Still Standing” at a London party, said he was asked to sign with John’s former label, the Rocket Record Company.

And, as the label suggests, Sedaka’s fame skyrocketed with 1974’s album “Sedaka’s Back”–the first of three albums with Elton John–and the singer was again charting hits in the U.S.

In 1983, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and he later received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 2003, he appeared as a guest judge on American Idol, where season two runner-up Clay Aiken later recorded and released Sedaka’s 1972 song “Solitaire,” which became the top-selling single of 2004.

During COVID, Sedaka started releasing mini concerts through his social media to keep fans entertained, and last September for his 60th anniversary with Leba, he shared a special concert with three songs he composed for her. The heart-warming tribute reads: “I’d like to dedicate today’s mini-concert to my beautiful wife, Leba. In September, we will be celebrating our 60th Anniversary. Here are three songs that were specially written for Leba!”

In early May, Sedaka posted a video on his Facebook, announcing that he joined the Cameo family. He shared that he looks forward to taking requests for birthdays, anniversaries, or any special occasion where he can deliver a special message. He ended the short clip with a few bars of “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” and fans praised him. One said, “Been listening to your songs since I was a teenager, I’m now 75 and love your music! Please don’t stop!!”

Another fan wrote a thoughtful message that many can relate to: “Dear Neil, your songs brighten up the day. I often find myself humming melodies you created…as if they have become a part of me. Thank you for the joy you bring to the world!”

While he continues to bring joy to everyone who hears his music, Sedaka is mostly focused on his wife and family.

“I was born married… if you’re lucky to have that companion that does it for you, that’s a great gift,” said Sedaka, a devoted grandfather of three, including one set of twins.

As for their kids, Dara (born 1963) is an actress and singer known for movies like Where the Boys Are, and Marc (born 1967) is a writer and editor for TV and film.

Referencing his successful career, Sedaka said, “I could have been bigger but I wasn’t controversial enough. I didn’t do drugs or wreck rooms. There were no dramas in my private life…I had talent and I was hungry for fame, and you can’t say I didn’t get it.”

It’s so inspiring that Neil Sedaka and Leba have been married for so many years, not allowing fame the opportunity to divide their beautiful relationship.

He really is a talented artist, whose music will most definitely influence generations to come. Thank you for sharing your life and music with all of us. What is your favorite song that he either performed or composed?

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