From Brooklyn to Brill
In the first of this two-part documentary - From Brooklyn To Brill - Johnnie Walker talks to Neil Sedaka, who illustrates his life and music through the magic of the piano.
Recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre, the American singer-songwriter charts an incredible journey which began in Brooklyn, where he now has a street named after him - Neil Sedaka Way.
Neil studied at the world famous Juilliard School in New York and signed to Atlantic Records when he was just 16, convincing Connie Francis to record Stupid Cupid after just eight bars.
Neil's rise was stellar and he and lyricist Howard Greenfield moved to The Brill Building, where they were taught to write songs with "hooks". It was an amazing centre for musical talent of the day, and the pair worked alongside such legends as Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman.
Neil listened to the hitmakers of the time and borrowed many of their styles, including that of Jerry Lee Lewis for I Go Ape, a hit which Mick Jagger admitted was the first record he ever bought.
But after ten Top Ten hits in a row, The British Invasion began, and Neil's home-spun style was on the wane.
You are at the first episode