THE WALKING DEAD HAS CONCLUDED FOR THE PART ONE OF SEASON SIX AND WHAT DO WE HAVE?

Morgan, who won’t kill and we spent an hour and a half earlier, learning why, knocks out Carol and is knocked out by The Wolf himself.

  Rick and his merry band of warriors try to make it past the walkers.  Unfortunately, Jessie’s scared son, just may ruin the party.

  Glenn and enid trying to help.

No Abraham, Daryl or Sasha.  We will have to wait until February.

Merritt Wever Picture  Merritt Weaver (originally from Nurse JAckie,) as Denise Cloyd, taken by the lunatic Wolf.

The midseason finale largely followed the events of Robert Kirkman's comics and left everyone at Alexandria in danger while also teasing the new villain's arrival.

Deana goes out in a “Blaze Of Glory.”

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Squeeze (band)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Squeeze
Squeeze live.jpg

Squeeze, 2010.
Background information
Origin London, England
Genres New wave, pop rock, power pop, post-punk
Years active 1974–82, 1985–99, 2007–present
Labels A&M, IRS, Ark 21, Reprise, Quixotic Records
Associated acts Difford & Tilbrook, Glenn Tilbrook & The Fluffers, Ace, Elvis Costello
Website Official Squeeze Website
Members Glenn Tilbrook
Chris Difford
Simon Hanson
Stephen Large
Lucy Shaw
Past members Jools Holland
Paul Gunn
Harry Kakoulli
Gilson Lavis
John Bentley
Paul Carrack
Don Snow
Keith Wilkinson
Chris Holland
Andy Metcalfe
Matt Irving
Pete Thomas
Kevin Wilkinson
Hilaire Penda
Ashley Soan
Chris Braide
Steve Nieve
Nick Harper

Squeeze are a British band that came to prominence in the United Kingdom during the new wave period of the late 1970s and continued recording successfully in the 1980s and 1990s. They are known in the UK for their hit songs “Cool for Cats“, “Up the Junction“, “Tempted“, “Labelled with Love“, “Black Coffee in Bed“, “Another Nail in My Heart“, “Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)” and “Hourglass“. Though not as commercially successful in the United States, Squeeze had American chart hits with “Tempted”, “Hourglass” and “853-5937“, and they have a dedicated following there and continue to attract new fans.[1] All of Squeeze’s hits were written by band members Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, with the former penning the lyrics and the latter handling the composition. The duo were hailed as “the heirs to Lennon and McCartney‘s throne” during their peak of popularity in the early 1980s.[2]

The group formed in Deptford, London, in 1974,[3] and first broke up in 1982. Squeeze then reformed in 1985, and disbanded again in 1999. The band reunited for tours through the United States and United Kingdom in 2007, and this touring version of Squeeze has continued.[2]

In 2010, they issued Spot the Difference, an album of newly recorded versions of older material. Then, during their 2012 tour of the US, Squeeze made available for sale a 4-song CD of new demo recordings; later in 2012, the band’s first new official studio recordings in 14 years were issued as the EP Packet of Four. Currently, this 4-song CD EP is only available as a bonus disc to purchasers of various live concert recordings of Squeeze’s 2012 UK tour.

The band’s first new album of material since 1998, Cradle to the Grave, was released on 2nd October 2015.[4]

Career[edit]

First incarnation: 1974–82[edit]

The band’s founding members in March 1974 were Chris Difford (guitar, vocals, lyrics), and Glenn Tilbrook (vocals, guitar, music). Difford claims that in 1973 he stole 50p from his mother’s purse to put a card in a local sweetshop window to advertise for a guitarist to join his band, although he wasn’t actually in a band at the time. Tilbrook was the only person who responded to the advert.[5] Difford and Tilbook began writing songs together, and soon added Jools Holland (keyboards) and Paul Gunn (drums) to form an actual band. The group performed under several names, most frequently “Captain Trundlow’s Sky Company” or “Skyco”, before selecting the band name “Squeeze” as a facetious tribute to the Velvet Underground‘s oft-derided 1973 album Squeeze.[6]

Gilson Lavis replaced Gunn on drums and Harry Kakoulli joined on bass in 1976.

Squeeze’s early career was spent around Deptford in SE London, where they were part of a lively local music scene which included Alternative TV and Dire Straits.[7] Though the group was initially signed to Miles Copeland III‘s BTM Records, the label went under in late 1976,[8] and so their early singles and debut EP, 1977’s Packet of Three, were released on the Deptford Fun City label.

Squeeze’s first EP and most of its self-titled debut album (1978) were produced by John Cale for A&M Records. Cale had been a member of Velvet Underground from whose album Squeeze took their name. However, the debut album’s two hit singles (“Take Me I’m Yours” and “Bang Bang”) were produced by the band themselves, as the label found Cale’s recordings uncommercial.

In the United States and Canada, the band and album were dubbed UK Squeeze due to legal conflicts arising from a contemporary American band called “Tight Squeeze”. The “U.K.” was dropped for all subsequent releases. In Australia, the same name change was used due to legal conflicts arising from an existing Sydney-based band also called “Squeeze”. Albums in Australia were credited to UK Squeeze up to and including 1985’s Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti.

The band’s second album, Cool for Cats (1979), contained the band’s two highest charting UK singles in “Cool For Cats” and “Up The Junction”, both of which peaked at No. 2. John Bentley replaced Harry Kakoulli on bass in 1979 following the release of the LP.[2]

Argybargy (1980), the band’s third album, was also a UK hit. It was additionally a mild breakthrough in North America, as the single “Another Nail in My Heart” was a No. 56 hit in Canada, and second single “Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)” received airplay on US rock radio stations.

Keyboardist Jools Holland left the band for a solo career in 1980. Keyboard duties were taken over by highly rated singer-keyboardist Paul Carrack, a former member of British soul-pop band Ace, who scored a major international hit with the song “How Long.” Carrack had also been a member of Roxy Music.

In 1981 the band cut perhaps their best-known album, East Side Story. It was produced by Elvis Costello and Roger Bechirian, and featured Carrack’s lead vocals on the radio hit “Tempted“. Carrack himself left after the release of East Side Story, and was replaced by Don Snow. This line-up recorded the Sweets from a Stranger LP in 1982. Negative reviews, the stresses of touring, and conflict between band members led Difford and Tilbrook to break up the band later that year, after releasing a final single, “Annie Get Your Gun“.

Difford and Tilbrook years: 1983–84[edit]

Difford and Tilbrook continued to work together, and released one self-titled album as the duo Difford & Tilbrook in 1984. Although it is not officially a Squeeze album, to many fans Difford & Tilbrook is considered a “lost” Squeeze LP[citation needed] because Difford and Tilbrook were themselves the only constant members of Squeeze. Several Difford & Tilbrook tracks have been featured on officially-sanctioned Squeeze compilations, and Tilbrook’s official site lists Difford & Tilbrook as a Squeeze album.

The duo also contributed to a musical written and staged in Deptford during this period, entitled Labelled with Love and based in large part on the music of Squeeze.[2]

Second incarnation: 1985–99[edit]

Squeeze re-formed to play a one night charity gig in 1985, with all five members from the 1980 Argybargy period—Difford, Tilbrook, Holland, Lavis, and Bentley. The performance was such a success that the band unanimously agreed to resume recording and touring as Squeeze. Searching for a different sound, the band replaced Bentley with bassist Keith Wilkinson from the Difford & Tilbrook sessions. This line-up released the 1985 LP Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti.

The new LP featured complex double-tracked keyboard parts which could not be duplicated by a single keyboard player in a live setting, so Jools’ brother Christopher Holland, then 17, played and toured as a second keyboardist in 1985; Christopher had also played Hammond organ on the album’s fourth single “Heartbreaking World”, which was sung by Jools Holland. However, Christopher Holland’s tenure was short-lived as he had signed to IRS records and was pursuing a solo career, so he was replaced by an official new member Andy Metcalfe of The Soft Boys and The Egyptians. A bassist in those groups, Metcalfe played keyboards with Squeeze. Metcalfe’s tenure as the band’s sixth member lasted until 1988.

In 1987, the sextet recorded the album Babylon and On. A successful release on both sides of the Atlantic, this album contained the band’s only US top 40 hits in “Hourglass” and “853-5937”.

Metcalfe left the band in 1988, leaving the Difford/Tilbrook/Holland/Wilkinson/Lavis line-up to record 1989’s Frank. The LP was a commercial disappointment that spun off no charting singles in the UK, and the band was dropped from their long-time A&M label.

Adding a new second keyboard player in the person of Matt Irving, the band issued the live album A Round and a Bout on I.R.S. Records in March 1990. Jools Holland left Squeeze again in early 1990, and was not immediately replaced. In his stead, the band used session musicians such as Irving (who was no longer an official band member), Snow, Steve Nieve, Bruce Hornsby and Carol Isaacs for the 1991 release Play, which came out on the Reprise label. This release again spawned no UK hits, although in the US the singles “Satisfied” and “Crying in Your Sleep” received significant airplay on modern rock stations, and in Canada “Satisfied” was a top 50 hit. However, Reprise dropped the band after this one album. Then drummer Gilson Lavis was let go in 1992, and replaced by Nieve’s fellow Attractions band mate Pete Thomas. Paul Carrack also returned to the band in 1993, although by this point Squeeze was not so much a band as it was a trade name for Difford and Tilbrook plus sidemen.

Squeeze re-signed to A&M in time for 1993’s Some Fantastic Place. After a period of commercial decline in the UK, lead single “Third Rail” hit No. 39, becoming Squeeze’s first UK Top 40 hit in six years.[2]

Squeeze’s line-up during the mid-1990s changed constantly. Though not an official Squeeze member, Aimee Mann was featured on vocals and guitar at many Squeeze shows during 1994. Thomas also exited the band that year, and Carrack doubled on snare and keyboards for a few gigs before session drummer Andy Newmark was brought in. Then—still in 1994—Carrack left, which allowed keyboardist Andy Metcalfe to return to the band for a short spell, playing on some live dates. Drummer Kevin Wilkinson (no relation to bassist Keith), formerly of The Waterboys and China Crisis, was also added around this time, replacing Newmark. He lasted through the 1995 album Ridiculous, which was recorded by the quartet of Difford, Tilbrook, Wilkinson and Wilkinson. The album spun off three minor hits in the UK: “This Summer”, “Electric Trains” and “Heaven Knows”. (“Heaven Knows” was used as the closing song in the 1995 film Hackers starring Angelina Jolie.) In addition, a minimally remixed version of “This Summer” became a No. 32 UK hit in 1996, a year after the original version peaked at No. 36. Despite this, A&M once again dropped Squeeze from their roster in late 1996.[2]

Following the release of Ridiculous, Don Snow (now known as Jonn Savannah) returned to Squeeze yet again as their touring keyboard player, but by 1997, the Squeeze line-up had officially dwindled down to just Difford and Tilbrook. That year the duo, billed as Squeeze, released the non-album single “Down in the Valley” as a fundraising single for Charlton Athletic F.C. Tilbrook formed the Quixotic label for this and future Squeeze-related releases, as well as releases by other artists.

For the 1998 album Domino, the band was again a quintet consisting of Difford, Tilbrook, bassist Hilaire Penda, ex-Del Amitri drummer Ashley Soan, and yet another returning keyboardist in the person of Christopher Holland . Nick Harper often performed with this version of Squeeze, providing additional guitar and vocals. In January 1999, just days before a planned tour, Chris Difford suddenly announced that he was taking a ‘hiatus’ from Squeeze. The last venue at which Squeeze played with Difford was at The Charlotte, Leicester, England. The band subsequently continued as a quartet led by Tilbrook, with Jim Kimberley replacing Soan on some tour dates, and Christopher Holland exiting in the autumn to be replaced by Tilbrook’s other frequent writing partner Chris Braide.

On 27 November 1999 in Aberdeen, Scotland, Squeeze played their final gig before breaking up again. Difford and Tilbrook embarked on separate solo careers shortly thereafter.[2]

Solo years: 2000–06[edit]

In 2003 Difford and Tilbrook collaborated on a song for the first time since Domino. The track, “Where I Can Be Your Friend,” appeared on Tilbrook’s well-reviewed second solo album, Transatlantic Ping Pong. In 2004 the pair worked with music journalist Jim Drury on the retrospective Squeeze: Song By Song. In this book they declared they had become better friends since breaking up the band than they ever were while Squeeze was together.

However, a 2004 attempt by the VH1 show Bands Reunited to reassemble the mid-1980s line-up of Squeeze (Difford, Tilbrook, Holland, Wilkinson and Lavis) ended in failure. While bassist Keith Wilkinson was favourable to the idea and drummer Gilson Lavis expressed some interest, Jools Holland felt he was too busy with current projects to participate, and, crucially, both Tilbrook and Difford expressed reservations about working together in a band context at that point in time.

Still, Difford and Tilbrook’s friendship continued, and in December 2005 Difford sat in for a few songs at a Glenn Tilbrook solo gig in Glasgow.

Third incarnation: 2007–present[edit]

In early 2007 it was announced that Difford and Tilbrook would re-form Squeeze for a series of shows throughout the latter half of the year, in support of Universal and Warner’s re-issuing of the band’s back catalogue and the release of a new ‘best of’ album, Essential Squeeze, on 30 April. Jools Holland and Gilson Lavis were unable to take part in the series of shows, as they were touring under the “Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra” name for most of the year. However, John Bentley re-joined on bass for the first time since Squeeze’s last reunion show in 1985. The rest of the line-up was fleshed out by members of Tilbrook’s touring band, The Fluffers: Stephen Large (keyboards) and Simon Hanson (drums).

On 7 July 2007, at the “Return to the Summer of Love Party,” at Hawkhurst, Kent, Difford and Tilbrook, each singing and playing acoustic guitars, played a seven song set. They played, in order, “Take Me I’m Yours,” “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell),” “Is that Love?,” “Tempted,” “Labelled with Love,” “Cool for Cats,” and “Up the Junction.” The first actual full-band Squeeze show since 1999 took place less than a week later at their old haunt, “The Albany” (Deptford) on Thursday 12 July which was actually billed as a “warm up” gig prior to the upcoming US tour, this was then followed by GuilFest 2007. They toured the US in August 2007, supported on various dates by Fountains of Wayne, Will Hoge, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and Cheap Trick.

In November 2007, the band released Five Live: On Tour in America, a live CD consisting of recordings from the American tour. The title referred to the number of people in the band, not the number of tracks on the 19-song CD.[2] Television appearances and live shows in the US and UK followed in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

In March 2010 the band were commemorated with a Heritage Award by PRS for Music. A plaque was erected on the Dance Hall in Greenwich, London where the band performed their first gig.[9]

Squeeze embarked on their ‘Spot The Difference’ tour of the USA in July 2010, which continued in the UK in November and December. The CD Spot The Difference, a re-recording of Squeeze’s classic hits, was released in August 2010 to accompany the tour.

On the US tour, during a performance of Pulling Mussels (From the Shell) live on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show, Stephen Large played the keyboard solo on an Apple iPad.[10]

In September 2010, Stephen Large left the band and was replaced by Steve Nieve. Nieve had played as a session musician with Squeeze and Difford & Tilbook in the past, but had not—until this line-up change—ever been an official member of the group. However, within a matter of months, Large returned to the Squeeze line-up as Nieve left the band.

This line-up of Difford/Tilbrook/Bentley/Large/Hanson continued to tour throughout 2011 and 2012. A 20-track live recording, Live at the Fillmore, was issued on iTunes and as a limited-edition white vinyl double-LP in April 2012.

Prior to their 2012 UK tour, Squeeze announced on the Radcliffe and Maconie show on BBC Radio 6 that they would be selling live recordings of every night’s show on the tour at each venue via a ‘Pop up Shop’. When the tour commenced, each live recording the band sold also came with a 4-song bonus disc entitled Packet of Four; these were studio recordings of new Squeeze songs, their first studio recordings of new material in 14 years.

On 11 February 2013 Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford performed a live cover of the Beatles‘ song “Please Please Me” on BBC Radio 2. They were joined by Paul Jones on harmonica. Alongside other contemporary artists, the performance was part of a 50th anniversary celebration of the original recording of the first Beatles album of the same name in the same period of time. A documentary of the recordings was shown by BBC Four on 15 February 2013.

Beginning in the autumn of 2014, Difford & Tilbrook began touring as a duo, playing Squeeze hits in smaller venues in the UK. Squeeze, still operating as a full band, also continued to play occasional festival shows through 2014 and 2015.[11] In early 2015, Squeeze announced that bassist John Bentley would play his final gig with the band on July 24. In an interview, Bentley announced his replacement will be Lucy Shaw (also the bassist for Tilbrook’s backing band The Fluffers), which was officially confirmed by Squeeze in August. A full-band UK tour has been announced for the fall of 2015.

New album[edit]

From 2008 forward, Difford and Tilbrook have repeatedly stated in interviews that they plan to produce an album of new Squeeze material; they alluded to this in on-camera interviews at V Festival in both 2008 and 2011. In January 2010 it was announced that they would be spending part of the coming summer in Italy together writing songs for a new Squeeze album, and in an interview on BBC Radio Wales on 10 November 2013, Glenn Tilbrook stated that Squeeze would be recording between January and March 2014. However these sessions never took place and Tilbrook ended up recording and releasing the solo album Happy Endings.

Around the same time, it was announced that Squeeze will be providing the music for a BBC drama called Cradle to the Grave, based on the autobiography Going To Sea in a Sieve by Danny Baker. Squeeze debuted the song “Cradle to the Grave” on their 2013 tour, and Difford & Tilbrook have been photographed with Danny Baker on the set of Cradle to the Grave.

Recording for the album finally got underway sometime in 2014/2015, and in April 2015, Chris Difford announced on his Twitter feed that he’d listened to a “first mix” of the new album. In July, Squeeze announced on their Facebook page that the album was entering the mastering stage. The album will receive official release on October 2nd. A limited edition of 1000 copies were released through the band’s own Love Records at the end of August.

Band member timeline[edit]

Discography[edit]

Main article: Squeeze discography

Wilson Pickett

Wilson Pickett

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wilson Pickett
Wilson Pickett.jpg
Background information
Also known as The “Wicked” Pickett
Born (1941-03-18)March 18, 1941
Prattville, Alabama, United States
Origin Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died January 19, 2006(2006-01-19) (aged 64)
Reston, Virginia, United States
Genres R&B, rock and roll, soul, Southern soul
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, Guitar
Years active 1955–2006
Labels Atlantic, Stax, RCA, EMI,[1] Motown
Associated acts The Falcons

Wilson Pickett (March 18, 1941 – January 19, 2006) was an American R&B, soul and rock and roll singer and songwriter.

A major figure in the development of American soul music, Pickett recorded over 50 songs which hit the US R&B charts, and frequently crossed over to the US Billboard Hot 100. Among his best known hits are “In the Midnight Hour” (which he co-wrote), “Land of 1,000 Dances“, “Mustang Sally“, and “Funky Broadway“.[2]

The impact of Pickett’s songwriting and recording led to his 1991 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[3]

Early life[edit]

Pickett was born March 18, 1941 in Prattville, Alabama,[2] and sang in Baptist church choirs. He was the fourth of 11 children and called his mother “the baddest woman in my book,” telling historian Gerri Hirshey: “I get scared of her now. She used to hit me with anything, skillets, stove wood — (one time I ran away) and cried for a week. Stayed in the woods, me and my little dog.” Pickett eventually left to live with his father in Detroit in 1955.[4]

Early musical career (1955–1964)[edit]

Pickett’s forceful, passionate style of singing was developed in the church and on the streets of Detroit,[3] under the influence of recording stars such as Little Richard, whom he referred to as “the architect of rock and roll.[5]

In 1955, Pickett joined gospel music group the Violinaires. The group accompanied The Soul Stirrers, The Swan Silvertones, and The Davis Sisters on church tours across the country.[citation needed] After singing for four years in the popular gospel-harmony group, Pickett, lured by the success of gospel singers who moved to the lucrative secular music market, joined the Falcons in 1959.[3]

By 1959, Pickett recorded the song “Let Me Be Your Boy” with Florence Ballard and The Primettes as the background. The song is the B-Side from his single from 1963 “My Heart Belongs To You”.

The Falcons were an early vocal group bringing gospel into a popular context, thus paving the way for soul music. The Falcons featured notable members who became major solo artists; when Pickett joined the group, Eddie Floyd and Sir Mack Rice were members. Pickett’s biggest success with The Falcons was “I Found a Love”, co-authored by Pickett and featuring his lead vocals. While only a minor hit for the Falcons, it paved the way for Pickett to go solo. Pickett would later achieve a solo hit with a re-recorded two-part version of the song, included on his 1967 album The Sound of Wilson Pickett.

Soon after recording “I Found a Love”, Pickett cut his first solo recordings, including “I’m Gonna Cry”, in collaboration with Don Covay. Pickett also recorded a demo for a song he co-wrote, called “If You Need Me”. A slow-burning soul ballad featuring a spoken sermon, Pickett sent the demo to Jerry Wexler, a producer at Atlantic Records. Wexler gave it to the label’s recording artist, Solomon Burke, Atlantic’s biggest star at the time. Although Burke admired Pickett’s performance of the song, his recording of “If You Need Me” would become one of his biggest hits (#2 R&B, #37 Pop) and is considered a soul standard, but Pickett was crushed when he discovered that Atlantic had given away his song. However, when Pickett—with a demo tape under his arm—returned to Wexler’s studio, Wexler asked whether he was angry about this loss, but denied it saying “It’s over”.[6] “First time I ever cried in my life”.[citation needed] Pickett’s version was released on Double L Records, and was a moderate hit, peaking at #30 R&B, #64 pop.

Pickett’s first significant success as a solo artist came with “It’s Too Late,” an original composition (not to be confused with the Chuck Willis standard of the same name). Entering the charts on July 27, 1963, it peaked at number 7 on the R&B chart (number 49 Pop); the same name would be used for Pickett’s debut album, which was released in the same year. Compiling several of Pickett’s single releases for Double L, It’s Too Late showcased a raw and primitive soulful sound that foreshadowed the singer’s performances throughout the coming decade. The single’s success convinced Wexler and Atlantic to buy Pickett’s recording contract from Double L Records in 1964.

Rise to stardom: In the Midnight Hour (1965)[edit]

Pickett’s Atlantic career began with the self-produced single, “I’m Gonna Cry”. Looking to boost Pickett’s chart chances, Atlantic paired him with record producer Bert Berns and established songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. With this team, Pickett recorded “Come Home Baby,” a duet with singer Tami Lynn, but this single failed to chart.[2]

Pickett’s breakthrough came at Stax Records‘ studio in Memphis, Tennessee, where he recorded his third Atlantic single, “In the Midnight Hour” (1965).[7] This song was Pickett’s first big hit, peaking at number 1 R&B, number 21 pop (US), and number 12 (UK).[2] It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[8]

The genesis of “In the Midnight Hour” was a recording session on May 12, 1965, at which Wexler worked out a powerful rhythm track with studio musicians Steve Cropper and Al Jackson of the Stax Records house band, including bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn. (Stax keyboard player Booker T. Jones, who usually played with Dunn, Cropper and Jackson as Booker T. & the M.G.’s, did not play on Pickett studio sessions.) Wexler said to Cropper and Jackson, “Why don’t you pick up on this thing here?” He performed a dance step. Cropper explained in an interview that Wexler told them that “this was the way the kids were dancing; they were putting the accent on two. Basically, we’d been one-beat-accenters with an afterbeat; it was like ‘boom dah,’ but here was a thing that went ‘um-chaw,’ just the reverse as far as the accent goes.”[citation needed]

Stax/Fame years (1965–67)[edit]

Pickett recorded three sessions at Stax in May and October 1965, and was joined by keyboardist Isaac Hayes for the October sessions. In addition to “In the Midnight Hour,” Pickett’s 1965 recordings included the singles “Don’t Fight It,” (#4 R&B, #53 pop) “634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A,)” (#1 R&B, #13 pop) and “Ninety-Nine and A Half (Won’t Do)” (#13 R&B, #53 pop). All but “634-5789” were original compositions which Pickett co-wrote with Eddie Floyd and/or Steve Cropper; “634-5789” was credited to Cropper and Floyd alone.

For his next sessions, Pickett would not return to Stax, as the label’s owner, Jim Stewart, decided to ban outside productions in December 1965. Wexler took Pickett to Fame Studios, a studio with a closer association to Atlantic Records. Located in a converted tobacco warehouse in nearby Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Pickett recorded some of his biggest hits. This included the highest charting version of “Land of 1,000 Dances“, which was Pickett’s third R&B #1, and his biggest pop hit, peaking at #6. it was a million selling disc.[8]

Other big hits from this era in Pickett’s career included two covers: Mack Rice‘s “Mustang Sally“, (#6 R&B, #23 Pop), and Dyke & the Blazers‘ “Funky Broadway“, (R&B #1, #8 Pop).[2] Both tracks were million sellers.[8] The band heard on most of Pickett’s Fame recordings included keyboardist Spooner Oldham, guitarist Jimmy Johnson, drummer Roger Hawkins, and bassist Tommy Cogbill.[9]

Later Atlantic years (1967–1972)[edit]

Wilson Pickett with Pino Presti in 1969

Near the end of 1967, Pickett began recording at American Studios in Memphis with producers Tom Dowd and Tommy Cogbill, and began recording songs by Bobby Womack. The songs “I’m In Love,” “Jealous Love,” “I’ve Come A Long Way,” “I’m A Midnight Mover,” (a Pickett/Womack co-write), and “I Found A True Love” were Womack-penned hits for Pickett in 1967 and 1968. Pickett recorded works by other songwriters in this era; Rodger Collins‘ “She’s Looking Good” and a cover of the traditional blues standard “Stagger Lee” were Top 40 Pickett hits recorded at American. Womack was the guitarist on all recordings.

Pickett returned to Fame Studios in late 1968 and early 1969, where he worked with a band that featured guitarist Duane Allman, Hawkins, and bassist Jerry Jemmott. A #16 pop hit cover of The Beatles‘ “Hey Jude” came out of the Fame sessions, as well as the minor hits “Mini-Skirt Minnie” and “Hey Joe”.

Late 1969 found Pickett at Criteria Studios in Miami. Hit covers of The Supremes‘ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” (#16 R&B, #92 Pop) and The Archies‘ “Sugar Sugar” (#4 R&B, #25 Pop), and the Pickett original “She Said Yes” (#20 R&B, #68 Pop) came from these sessions.

Pickett then teamed up with established Philadelphia-based hitmakers Gamble and Huff for the 1970 album Wilson Pickett In Philadelphia, which featured his next two hit singles, “Engine No.9” and “Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You”, the latter selling one million copies.[8]

Following these two hits, Pickett returned to Muscle Shoals and the band featuring David Hood, Hawkins and Tippy Armstrong. This line-up recorded Pickett’s fifth and last R&B #1 hit, “Don’t Knock My Love, Pt. 1”.[2] It was another Pickett recording that clocked up sales in excess of a million copies.[8] Two further hits followed in 1971: “Call My Name, I’ll Be There” (#10 R&B, #52 Pop) and “Fire and Water” (#2 R&B, #24 Pop), a cover of a song by Free.

Pickett recorded several tracks in 1972 for a planned new album on Atlantic, but after the single “Funk Factory” reached #11 R&B and #58 pop in June 1972, he left Atlantic for RCA Records. His final Atlantic single, a cover of Randy Newman‘s “Mama Told Me Not To Come,” was culled from Pickett’s 1971 album Don’t Knock My Love.

In 2010, Rhino Handmade released a comprehensive compilation of these years titled “Funky Midnight Mover – The Studio Recordings (1962–1978)”. The compilation included all originally issued recordings during Pickett’s Atlantic years along with previously unreleased recordings. This collection sold online only via Rhino.com.

Post-Atlantic recording career[edit]

Pickett continued to record with success on the R&B charts for RCA in 1973 and 1974, scoring four top 30 R&B hits with “Mr. Magic Man”, “Take a Closer Look at the Woman You’re With”, “International Playboy” (a re-recording of a song he had previously recorded for Atlantic), and “Soft Soul Boogie Woogie”. However, he was failing to cross over to the pop charts with regularity, as none of these songs reached higher than #90 on the Hot 100. In 1975, with Pickett’s once-prominent chart career on the wane, RCA dropped Pickett from the label. After being dropped, he formed the short-lived Wicked label, where he released one LP Chocolate Mountain. In 1978, he made a disco album with Big Tree Records titled Funky Situation, which is a coincidence as, at that point, Big Tree was distributed by his former label, Atlantic. The following year, he released an album on EMI titled I Want You.

Pickett continued to record sporadically with several labels over the following decades, occasionally making the lower to mid-range of the R&B charts, but he had no pop hit after 1974. His last record was issued in 1999, although he remained fairly active on the touring front until falling ill in 2004.

Pickett appeared in the 1998 film Blues Brothers 2000, in which he performed “634–5789” with Eddie Floyd and Jonny Lang. He was previously mentioned in the 1980 film Blues Brothers, which features several members of Pickett’s backing band, as well as a performance of “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.”

Personal life and honors[edit]

Outside of music, Pickett’s personal life was troubled. Even in his 1960s heyday, Pickett was temperamental and preoccupied with guns; Don Covay described him as “young and wild”.[citation needed] Then in 1987, as his recording career was drying up, Pickett was given two years’ probation and fined $1,000 for carrying a loaded shotgun in his car.[citation needed] In 1991, he was arrested for allegedly yelling death threats while driving a car over the front lawn of Donald Aronson, the Mayor of Englewood, New Jersey.[10] The following year, he was charged with assaulting his girlfriend.

In 1993, Pickett was involved in an accident when he struck an 86-year-old pedestrian, Pepe Ruiz, with his car in Englewood.[10] Ruiz, who helped organize the New York animation union, died later that year.[11] Pickett pleaded guilty to drunken driving charges and received a reduced sentence of one year in jail and five years probation.[12][13] Pickett had been previously convicted of various drug offenses.[citation needed]

Throughout the 1990s, despite his personal troubles, Pickett was continually honored for his contributions to music. In addition to being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, his music was prominently featured in the film The Commitments, with Pickett as an off-screen character. In 1993, he was honored with a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.

Pickett was a popular composer writing songs that were recorded by many artists including Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, the Grateful Dead, Booker T. & the MGs, Genesis, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Hootie & the Blowfish, Echo & the Bunnymen, Roxy Music, Bruce Springsteen, Los Lobos, The Jam and Ani DiFranco, among others.

Several years after his release from jail, Pickett returned to the studio and received a Grammy Award nomination for the 1999 album It’s Harder Now. The comeback resulted in his being honored as ‘Soul/Blues Male Artist of the Year’ by the Blues Foundation in Memphis.[14] It’s Harder Now was voted ‘Comeback Blues Album of the Year’ and ‘Soul/Blues Album of the Year.’

In 2003, he co-starred in the D.A. Pennebaker directed documentary Only the Strong Survive, a selection of both the 2002 Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals. In 2003, Pickett was a judge for the second annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists’ careers.[15]

Pickett spent the twilight of his career playing dozens of concert dates every year until 2004, when he began suffering from health problems. While in the hospital, he returned to his spiritual roots and told his sister that he wanted to record a gospel album,[5] however he never recovered.

Mr. Pickett was the father of six children.

On September 10, 2014, TVOne’s Unsung aired a documentary on him.[16]

Death[edit]

Pickett died from a heart attack on January 19, 2006 in Reston, Virginia. He was 64.[17] He was laid to rest in a mausoleum in Louisville, Kentucky at Evergreen Cemetery on Preston Highway.[18] Pickett spent many years in Louisville when his mother moved there from Alabama.[citation needed] The eulogy was delivered by Pastor Steve Owens of Decatur, Georgia. Little Richard, a long-time friend of Pickett’s, spoke about him and preached a message at the funeral.[19] He was remembered on March 20, 2006, at New York’s B.B. King Blues Club with performances by the Commitments, Ben E. King, his long-term backing band the Midnight Movers, soul singer Bruce “Big Daddy” Wayne, and Southside Johnny in front of an audience that included members of his family, including two brothers.

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

Release date Titles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart positions Album
US Hot 100[20] US R&B UK[21]
1962 “If You Need Me”
b/w “Baby, Call On Me”
64 30 It’s Too Late
1963 “It’s Too Late”
b/w “I’m Gonna Love You”
49 7
“I’m Down To My Last Heartbreak”
b/w “I Can’t Stop”
95 27
“My Heart Belongs To You”
b/w “Let Me Be Your Boy”
Reissue charted in 1965
109 Non-album tracks
1964 “I’m Gonna Cry”
b/w “For Better Or Worse”
124 In The Midnight Hour
“Come Home Baby”
b/w “Take A Little Love”
1965 In The Midnight Hour
b/w “I’m Not Tired”
21 1 12
“Don’t Fight It”
b/w “It’s All Over” (from The Exciting Wilson Pickett)
53 4 29
1966 634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.)
b/w “That’s A Man’s Way” (from In The Midnight Hour)
13 1 36 The Exciting Wilson Pickett
“Ninety Nine and A Half (Won’t Do)”
b/w “Danger Zone”
53 13
Land Of 1,000 Dances
b/w You’re So Fine”
6 1 22
Mustang Sally
b/w “Three Time Loser”
23 6 28 The Wicked Pickett
1967 Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
b/w “Nothing You Can Do”
29 19
“I Found A Love – Part I”
b/w “I Found A Love – Part II”
32 6 The Sound Of Wilson Pickett
“You Can’t Stand Alone” / 70 26
“Soul Dance Number Three” 55 10
Funky Broadway
b/w “I’m Sorry About That”
8 1 43
I’m In Love” / 45 4 I’m In Love
“Stag-O-Lee” 22 13
1968 “Jealous Love” / 50 18
“I’ve Come A Long Way” 101 46
“She’s Looking Good”
b/w “We’ve Got To Have Love”
15 7
“I’m A Midnight Mover”
b/w “Deborah”
24 6 38 The Midnight Mover
“I Found A True Love”
b/w “For Better Or Worse”
42 11
“A Man and A Half”
b/w “People Make The World (What It Is)”
42 20 Hey Jude
Hey Jude
b/w “Search Your Heart”
23 13 16
1969 “Mini-skirt Minnie”
b/w “Back In Your Arms” (from Hey Jude)
50 19 Non-album track
Born To Be Wild
b/w “Toe Hold”
64 41 Hey Jude
Hey Joe
b/w “Night Owl” (from Hey Jude)
59 29 Right On
You Keep Me Hangin’ On
b/w “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t” (Non-album track)
92 16
1970 Sugar, Sugar” / 25 4
“Cole, Cooke, and Redding” 91 11 The Best Of Wilson Pickett Vol. II
“She Said Yes”
b/w “It’s Still Good”
68 20 Right On
“Engine No. 9”
b/w “International Playboy”
14 3 In Philadelphia
1971 “Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You”
b/w “Ain’t No Doubt About It”
17 2
Don’t Knock My Love – Pt. I
b/w “Don’t Knock My Love – Pt. II”
13 1 Don’t Knock My Love
“Call My Name, I’ll Be There”
b/w “Woman, Let Me Be Down Home”
52 10
“Fire and Water”
b/w “Pledging My Love”
24 2
1972 “Funk Factory”
b/w “One Step Away”
58 11 Non-album tracks
Mama Told Me Not To Come
b/w “Covering the Same Old Ground”
99 16 Don’t Knock My Love
1973 “Mr. Magic Man”
b/w “I Sho’ Love You”
98 16 Mr. Magic Man
“Take A Closer Look At The Woman You’re With”
b/w “Two Woman and A Wife”
90 17 Miz Lena’s Boy
“International Playboy”
b/w “Come Right Here”
104 30 In Philadelphia
1974 “Soft Soul Boogie Woogie”
b/w “Take That Pollution Out Your Throat”
103 20 Miz Lena’s Boy
“Take Your Pleasure Where You Find It”
b/w “What Good Is A Lie”
68 Pickett In The Pocket
“I Was Too Nice”
b/w “Isn’t That So”
1975 “The Best Part Of A Man”
b/w “How Will I Ever Know”
26 Chocolate Mountain
1976 “Love Will Keep Us Together”
b/w “It’s Gonna Be Good”
69
1977 “Love Dagger”
b/w “Time To Let The Sun Shine On Me” (from A Funky Situation)
Non-album track
1978 “Who Turned You On”
b/w “Dance You Down”
59 A Funky Situation
“Groovin'”
b/w “Time To Let The Sun Shine On Me”
94
1979 “I Want You”
b/w “Love Of My Life”
41 I Want You
1980 “Live With Me”
b/w “Granny”
95
1981 “Ain’t Gonna Give You No More”
b/w “Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Love”
Right Track
“Back On The Right Track”
b/w “It’s You”
1982 “Seconds” (with Jackie Moore)
b/w “Seconds” (Instrumental)
Non-album tracks
1987 “Don’t Turn Away”
b/w “I Can’t Stop Now”
74 American Soul Man
“In The Midnight Hour” (re-recording)
b/w “634-5789 (Soulsville U.S.A.)” (re-recording, non-album track)
62
1988 “Love Never Let Me Down”
b/w “Just Let Her Know”

[2]

Albums[edit]

  • It’s Too Late (1963, Double L)
  • In The Midnight Hour (1965, Atlantic)
  • The Exciting Wilson Pickett (1966, Atlantic) US: #21
  • The Best Of Wilson Pickett (1967, Atlantic) US: #35
  • The Wicked Pickett (1967, Atlantic) US: #42
  • The Sound of Wilson Pickett (1967, Atlantic) US: #54
  • I’m In Love (1967, Atlantic) US: #70
  • The Midnight Mover (1968, Atlantic) US: #91
  • Hey Jude (1969, Atlantic) US: #97
  • Right On (1970, Atlantic)
  • Wilson Pickett In Philadelphia (1970, Atlantic) US: #64
  • The Best Of Wilson Pickett, Vol. II (1971, Atlantic) US: #73
  • Don’t Knock My Love (1972, Atlantic) US: #132
  • Mr. Magic Man (1973, RCA) US: #187
  • Wilson Pickett’s Greatest Hits (1973) US: #178
  • Miz Lena’s Boy (1973, RCA) US: #212
  • Pickett In The Pocket (1974, RCA)
  • Live In Japan (1974, RCA)
  • Join Me And Let’s Be Free (1975, RCA)
  • Chocolate Mountain (1976, Wicked)
  • Funky Situation (1978, Big Tree)
  • I Want You (1979, EMI) US: #205
  • Right Track (1981, EMI)
  • American Soul Man (1987, Motown)
  • Wilson Pickett’s Greatest Hits (1987, Atlantic)
  • A Man And A Half: The Best Of Wilson Pickett (1992, Rhino/Atlantic)
  • It’s Harder Now (1999, Bullseye Blues)
  • Live And Burnin’ – Stockholm ’69 (2009, Soulsville)
  • Live In Germany 1968 (2009, Crypt Records 2009)
  • Funky Midnight Mover: The Atlantic Studio Recordings (1962–1978) (2010, Rhino)[2]

TIGERS LAND JORDAN ZIMMERMAN

The Tigers have signed 29 year old righty Jordan Zimmerman to a five year 110 million dollar deal.  Zimmermann, a two-time All-Star, went 70-50 with a 3.32 ERA in 178 career starts with the  Nationals.

STATS

GP GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO W L P/GS WHIP BAA ERA
2015 Regular Season 33 33 0 0 201.2 204 89 82 24 39 164 13 10 94.0 1.20 .264 3.66
Career 178 178 8 4 1094.0 1047 439 403 104 221 903 70 50 94.3 1.16 .252 3.32

Neil Sedaka

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Neil Sedaka
Neil Sedaka - publicity.JPG

Sedaka in 1965
Background information
Born (1939-03-13) March 13, 1939 (age 76)
Origin Brooklyn, New York City,
United States
Genres Rock, Pop
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, musician, multi-instrumentalist, record producer
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 1957–present
Labels RCA Records, MGM Records, Polydor Records, Rocket, Elektra Records, Neil Sedaka Music, Razor & Tie Records
Website neilsedaka.com

HIDDEN ERROR: Usage of “nationality” is not recognized

Neil Sedaka (born March 13, 1939) is an American pop/rock singer, pianist, composer and record producer. Since his music career began in 1957, he has sold millions of records as an artist and has written or co-written over 500 songs for himself and others, collaborating mostly with lyricists Howard Greenfield and Phil Cody.

Early life: Juilliard and the Brill Building[edit]

Sedaka was born in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Mac Sedaka, was a taxi driver and a Sephardi Jew of Turkish origin[1][2] (“Sedaka” and “Sadaka” are variants of “tzedakah“, which translates in both Hebrew and Arabic as the word charity). Neil’s mother, Eleanor (née Appel), was an Ashkenazi Jew of Polish/Russian origin. Neil’s grandparents came to the United States from Constantinople, then the capital of Ottoman Turkey, in 1910.[3] He grew up in Brighton Beach, on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.[4] Sedaka is a cousin of the late singer Eydie Gormé.

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 an Abraham & Straus department store for six months to pay for a second-hand upright. In 1947, he auditioned successfully for a piano scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music‘s Preparatory Division for Children, which he attended on Saturdays. His mother wanted him to become a renowned classical pianist like the contemporary of the day, Van Cliburn, but Sedaka was discovering pop music. When Sedaka was 13, a neighbor heard him playing and introduced him to her 16-year-old son, Howard Greenfield, an aspiring poet and lyricist. They became two of the legendary Brill Building‘s composers.

Sedaka and Greenfield wrote songs together throughout much of their young lives. When Sedaka became a major teen pop star, the pair continued writing hits for Sedaka and a litany of other artists. When The Beatles and the British Invasion took American music in a different direction, Sedaka was left without a recording career. In the early 1970s, he decided a major change in his life was necessary and moved his family to Britain. Sedaka and Greenfield mutually agreed to end their partnership with “Our Last Song Together”. Sedaka began a new composing partnership with lyricist Phil Cody, from Pleasantville, New York. After Sedaka returned to the United States, the Sedaka-Greenfield team eventually reunited and continued until Greenfield’s death in 1986.[citation needed]

Early career[edit]

Rise to fame with RCA Victor: the late 1950s[edit]

After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School, Sedaka and some of his classmates formed a band called The Tokens. The band had minor regional hits with songs like “While I Dream”, “I Love My Baby”, “Come Back, Joe”, and “Don’t Go”, before Sedaka launched out on his own in 1957. Eventually, after a few personnel changes, in 1961, the Tokens hit No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts with the international smash “The Lion Sleeps Tonight“. Meanwhile, the very young Sedaka’s first three solo singles, “Laura Lee”, “Ring-a-Rockin'”, and “Oh, Delilah!” failed to become hits (although “Ring-a-Rockin'” earned him the first of many appearances on Dick Clark‘s American Bandstand), but they demonstrated his ability to perform as a solo singer, so RCA Victor signed him to a recording contract.

His first single for RCA, “The Diary“, was inspired by Connie Francis, one of Sedaka and Greenfield’s most important clients, while the three were taking a temporary break during their idea-making for a new song. Francis was writing in her diary, Sedaka asked if he could read it, and Connie promptly replied with a “no.” After Little Anthony and the Imperials passed on the song, Sedaka recorded it himself, and his debut single hit the Top 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 14 in 1958.

However, his next two singles did not fare so well. His second single, a novelty tune titled “I Go Ape“, just missed the Top 40, peaking at No. 42 but it became a more successful single in the United Kingdom with a No. 9. The third single, “Crying My Heart Out for You“, was a commercial failure, missing the Hot 100 entirely, peaking at No. 111 but it also became a very successful single on the pop charts in Italy with a No. 6. RCA Victor had lost money on “I Go Ape” and “Crying My Heart Out For You” and was ready to drop Sedaka from their label. But Sedaka’s manager, Al Nevins, persuaded the RCA executives to give him one last chance.

Knowing he would not get another chance if he failed again, and desperate for another hit, Sedaka himself bought the three biggest hit singles of the time and listened to them repeatedly, studying the song structure, chord progressions, lyrics and harmonies—and he discovered that the hit songs of the day all shared the same basic musical anatomy. Armed with his newfound arsenal of musical knowledge, he set out to craft his next big hit song, and he promptly did exactly that: “Oh! Carol” delivered Sedaka his first domestic Top 10 hit, reaching No. 9 on the Hot 100 in 1959 and going to No. 1 on the Italian pop charts in 1960, giving Sedaka his first No. 1 ranking. In the UK, the song spent a total of 17 weeks in the top 40, peaking at no.3 (4 weeks). [5]In addition, the B-side, “One Way Ticket“, reached No. 1 on the pop charts in Japan. Sedaka had dated Carole King when he was still at high school, which gave him the idea to use her name in the song. Gerry Goffin – King’s husband – took the tune, and wrote the playful response “Oh! Neil”, which King recorded and released as an unsuccessful single the same year.[6][7][8][9] Thus, this was the only time the melody of the song was used by a popular artist and a future sensation around the same time.

Big hits in the early 1960s[edit]

After establishing himself in 1958, Sedaka kept churning out new hits from 1960 to 1962. His flow of Top 30 hits during this period included: “Stairway to Heaven” (No. 9, 1960); “You Mean Everything to Me” (No. 17, 1960); “Run, Samson, Run” (No. 27, 1960); “Calendar Girl” (No. 4, 1961; also reached No. 1 on the Japanese and Canadian pop charts); “Little Devil” (No. 11, 1961); “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen” (No. 6, 1961); his signature song, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” (No. 1, two weeks: August 11 and 18, 1962); and “Next Door to an Angel” (No. 5, 1962). Singles not making the Top 30 during this period included “Sweet Little You” (No. 59, 1961) and “King of Clowns” (No. 45, 1962). RCA issued four LPs in the United States and Great Britain of his works during this period, and also produced Scopitone and Cinebox videos of “Calendar Girl” in 1961, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” in 1962, and “The Dreamer” in 1963. (His second LP was the only one made in the big band style with songs combined in a single record.) He made regular appearances on such TV programs as American Bandstand and Shindig! during this period.

Writing for other performers[edit]

Connie Francis[edit]

When Sedaka was not recording his own songs, he and Howard Greenfield were writing for other performers, most notably in their earliest days Connie Francis. Francis began searching for a new hit after her 1958 single “Who’s Sorry Now?“. She was introduced to Sedaka and Greenfield, who played every ballad they had written for her. Francis began writing in her diary while the two played the last of their songs. After they finished, Francis told them they wrote beautiful ballads but that they were too intellectual for the young generation. Sedaka suggested to Greenfield a song they had written that morning for a girl group. Greenfield protested because the song had been promised to the girl group, but Sedaka insisted on playing “Stupid Cupid“. Francis told them they had just played her new hit. Francis’ song reached No. 14 on the Billboard charts.

While Francis was writing in her diary, Sedaka asked her if he could read what she had written. After she refused to let him peek into “that little book/ the one that has the lock and key,” Sedaka was inspired to write “The Diary”, his own first hit single. Sedaka and Greenfield wrote many of Connie Francis’ hits, such as “Fallin'” and the “Theme from Where the Boys Are“, the film in which she starred. This hit the Top 5 on the Billboard pop singles chart and Francis had several No. 1 singles. “Where the Boys Are” eventually became her signature song.

Jimmy Clanton[edit]

Sedaka and Greenfield also wrote some of Jimmy Clanton‘s hits, such as “Another Sleepless Night,” “What Am I Gonna Do?” and “All the Words in the World.” Sedaka himself recorded each of these three songs: “Another Sleepless Night” appears on his Rock With Sedaka debut album; “What Am I Gonna Do?” was the B-side of “Going Home to Mary Lou” and appeared on his 1961 album Neil Sedaka Sings “Little Devil” and His Other Hits; and “All the Words in the World” was recorded but was kept in the RCA vaults until 1977, at the height of Sedaka’s return to popularity, when it was released on the album Neil Sedaka: The ’50s and ’60s.

Foreign-language recordings[edit]

Sedaka was very popular in Italy. Many of his English-language records were released there and proved quite successful, especially “Crying My Heart Out For You” (Italian No. 6, 1959) and “Oh! Carol” (Italian No. 1, 1960).

In 1961, Sedaka began to record some of his hits in Italian, starting with “Esagerata” and “Un giorno inutile”, local versions of “Little Devil” and “I Must Be Dreaming”. Other recordings were to follow, such as “Tu non-lo sai” (“Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”), “Il re dei pagliacci” (“King of Clowns”), “I tuoi capricci” (“Look Inside Your Heart”), and “La terza luna” (“Waiting For Never”). “La terza luna” reached No. 1 on the Italian pop charts in April 1963. Cinebox videos exist for “La terza luna” and “I tuoi capricci”. From a language standpoint, his recordings in Italian had very little American accent. RCA Victor’s Italiana department distributed his records in Italy and released three compilation LPs of Sedaka’s Italian recordings.

Sedaka also recorded several songs in Spanish, a handful of songs in German, and one single apiece in Hebrew, Japanese, and Canadian French. His English-language recordings were also quite popular internationally; “One-Way Ticket to the Blues” and “Calendar Girl” reached No. 1 on the Japanese pop charts in 1959 and 1961. He enjoyed popularity in Latin America for his Spanish-language recordings. Many of these were pressed onto 78 rpm discs.

Mid-1960s[edit]

The year 1962 was one of the most important of Sedaka’s career, with “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” reaching No. 1 and “Next Door to an Angel” reaching No. 5. But after 1962, his popularity began to wane. His singles for 1963 had moderate success: “Alice In Wonderland” (No. 17), “Let’s Go Steady Again” (No. 26), “The Dreamer” (No. 47), and “Bad Girl” (No. 33). “Bad Girl” would be Sedaka’s last Top 40 hit in the U.S. until 1974.

In 1964, Sedaka’s career began a sharp decline, hastened by The Beatles‘ arrival on the radio and TV, and the rest of the so-called British Invasion. When describing the Beatles’ effect on his career in the mid-1960s, Sedaka put it brusquely: “The Beatles—not good!”[10] From 1964 to 1966, only three of his singles cracked the Hot 100: “Sunny” (No. 86, 1964), “The World through a Tear” (No. 76, 1965), and “The Answer to My Prayer” (No. 89, 1965). His other singles from this era—”The Closest Thing To Heaven”, “I Hope He Breaks Your Heart”, “Let The People Talk”, “The Answer Lies Within” and “We Can Make It If We Try”—all missed the Hot 100, the same fate since Sedaka’s third U.S. single, and became commercial failures.

To make matters worse, Sedaka’s employers at RCA Victor refused to release his new recording, “It Hurts to Be in Love“, because he had not recorded it in their studios, as stipulated by his contract. Sedaka attempted another recording of this song in RCA’s studios, but the results were unsatisfactory. Howard Greenfield and Helen Miller, the song’s co-writers, offered it instead to one of Sedaka’s friends, Gene Pitney. Pitney took the existing musical track, replacing Sedaka’s lead vocal track with his own. Everything else was Sedaka’s, including his own arrangement and backing vocals, piano-playing, and usual female backup singers. Pitney ended up with a No. 7 hit for himself and his record label, Musicor, in 1964.

For the remainder of his tenure with RCA Victor, Sedaka never fully recovered from the effects of Beatlemania, the loss of “It Hurts to Be in Love” to Pitney, or the failure of his recordings. RCA refused to renew his contract when it expired in 1966. As a result, Sedaka was left without a recording label.

Although Sedaka’s stature as a recording artist was at a low ebb in the late 1960s, he was able to maintain his career through songwriting. Because his publisher, Aldon Music, was acquired by Screen Gems, two of his songs were recorded by The Monkees. Other hits Sedaka wrote in this period included The Cyrkle‘s versions of “We Had a Good Thing Goin'” and “Workin’ On a Groovy Thing“; a Top 40 R&B hit for Patti Drew in 1968; and a Top 20 pop hit for The 5th Dimension in 1969. Also, “Make the Music Play” was included on Frankie Valli‘s charting album Timeless.

On a 1965 episode of the quiz show I’ve Got a Secret, Sedaka’s secret was that he was to represent the United States at the 1966 Tchaikovsky classical piano competition in Moscow. Unaware of Sedaka’s secret, panelist Henry Morgan challenged Sedaka with the fact that the Soviet bureaucracy had outlawed rock ‘n’ roll music, and that any Western music young Russians wanted had to be smuggled into the country. Once Sedaka’s secret had been revealed, he impressed the show’s panelists with his performance of Frederic Chopin’s “Fantaisie Impromptu“.[11] Morgan’s warning turned out to be valid, however: Despite Sedaka’s classical roots, his “other” life as a pop star spurred the Soviet Union to disqualify him from entering the competition.

Sedaka also made an appearance in the 1968 movie Playgirl Killer, where he performed a song called “The Waterbug”.

Struggles of the late 1960s to early 1970s[edit]

Australia years[edit]

Neil worked to revive his solo career in the early 1970s. Despite his waning chart appeal in the USA in the late 1960s, he remained very popular as a concert attraction, notably in the UK and Australia. In 2010, as a guest on Australian disc jockey Bob Rogers’ radio show, he thanked Rogers and Australian music fans for standing by him during that challenging time: “You know, Bob, in my lean years—I called them The Hungry Years—it was Bob Rogers and Australia who welcomed me.”[12] Sedaka made several trips to Australia to play cabaret dates, and his commercial comeback began when the single “Star-Crossed Lovers” became a major hit there. The song went to No. 1 nationally in April 1969—giving Sedaka his first charting single anywhere in four years. It also came in at No. 5 in Go-Set magazine’s list of the Top 40 Australian singles of 1969.[13]

Later that year, with the support of Festival Records, he recorded a new LP of original material entitled Workin’ on a Groovy Thing (released in the United Kingdom as Sounds of Sedaka) at Festival Studios in Sydney. It was co-produced by Festival staff producer Pat Aulton, 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.[14]

One of the tracks from the album, “Wheeling, West Virginia,” reached No. 20 in Australia in early 1970.[15] The LP is also notable because it was Sedaka’s first album to include collaborations with writers other than longtime lyricist Howard Greenfield; the title track featured lyrics by Roger Atkins and four other songs were co-written with Carole Bayer Sager.

Emergence and Solitaire[edit]

In 1971, Sedaka released the Emergence album. Singles from that album included “I’m A Song (Sing Me),” “Silent Movies,” “Superbird,” and “Rosemary Blue.” Emergence and the next year’s Solitaire album were both released on the RCA Victor label, marking a short-lived reunion between Sedaka and RCA. Good friend and New York music impresario Don Kirshner attempted to make the U.S. release of “Emergence” a comeback for Sedaka, but the album and single releases had no appreciable success, and RCA showed little interest in promoting the album. After the failure of “Emergence” in the US market, Sedaka left New York and moved his family to the UK.[citation needed]

In 1972, Sedaka embarked on a successful English tour and was introduced by Harvey Lisberg to the four future members of 10cc (best known to American audiophiles for “I’m Not in Love” and “The Things We Do for Love“) with whom he recorded the Solitaire album at their Strawberry Studios in Stockport.[16] As well as the title track, “Solitaire“, which was successfully covered by Andy Williams (UK Top 5 singles chart) and the Carpenters (US Top 20), it included two UK Top 40 singles, one of which (“Beautiful You”) also charted briefly in America, Sedaka’s first US chart appearance in ten years. However, the album’s minor performance generated little interest in restarting Sedaka’s career.[citation needed]

Return to success in the Mid-1970s[edit]

Neil Sedaka in 1974

Newfound success[edit]

A year later he reconvened with the Strawberry team, who had by then charted with their own debut 10cc album, to record The Tra-La Days Are Over for MGM Records, which started the second phase of his career and included his original version of the hit song “Love Will Keep Us Together” (also a US No. 1 hit two years later for Captain & Tennille). This album also marked the effective end of his writing partnership with Greenfield, commemorated by the track “Our Last Song Together.” They would reunite, however, and begin composing together again before Greenfield’s death in 1986. From 1974 onward, Sedaka’s records were issued in Europe and around the world on the Polydor label. His first album of new material with Polydor was Laughter in the Rain.

Career with The Rocket Record Company[edit]

Elton John and Sedaka met at a party in London in 1973. When John learned Sedaka had no American record label, he suggested Sedaka sign with his Rocket Record Company, Limited, and Sedaka accepted the proposition. When John visited Sedaka at his London apartment, they discussed plans for relaunching his career in the United States.[17]

John said he had “always been a Sedaka fan anyway”.[17] He went on to say:

So the basic plan was as simple as finding out what he wanted to have on his album – which turned out to be a compilation from his British albums. It had been like Elvis coming up and giving us the chance to release his records. We couldn’t believe our luck.[17]

Sedaka’s Back[edit]

Sedaka returned to the U.S. album charts with the release of Sedaka’s Back, a compilation of songs from three albums he had already recorded in the UK—namely “Solitaire,” “The Tra-La Days Are Over,” and “Laughter in the Rain.” It was only the second Sedaka album ever to chart in the U.S. Sedaka was known principally as a singles artist up to that point in his career; his only other American charting album was Neil Sedaka Sings His Greatest Hits, a compilation of his early singles. Although the single was released in the autumn of 1974 and was very slow in building in sales and at radio, eventually Sedaka found himself once again topping the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (February 1, 1975) with “Laughter in the Rain.” It was Sedaka’s second No. 1 single thus far at that point in his career (after 1962’s original version of “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do“) and solidly reestablished Sedaka’s popularity in America.

One of Sedaka’s most well-received compositions during this period was the second single, “The Immigrant” (US pop No. 22, US AC No. 1). Critics hailed its beautiful orchestration and evocative lyrics: wistful, nostalgic, and no doubt enhanced and embellished by both pride and disillusion with the contemporary state of affairs in the United States.[citation needed] The third consecutive Billboard Top 30 hit from Sedaka’s Back was the uptempo rocker “That’s When the Music Takes Me” (US pop No. 27, US AC No. 7), originally from the 1972 Solitaire album. This song was a rarity at the time as it was one of the few songs Sedaka had written by himself, without a collaborator. It remains today his standard curtain-call concert closer.[citation needed] In the US, Sedaka’s records were issued first on the Rocket label (1974–77) and on the Elektra label (1977–81).

Writing for artists of the 1970s[edit]

Sedaka and Greenfield co-wrote “Love Will Keep Us Together,” a No. 1 hit for Captain & Tennille and the biggest hit for the entire year of 1975. Toni Tennille paid tribute to Sedaka’s welcome return to music-business success with her ad lib of “Sedaka is back” in the outro while she was laying down her own background vocals for the track.[18] “Captain” Daryl Dragon and Toni also recorded a Spanish-language version of the song the same year that cracked the top half of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart (“Por Amor Viviremos,” US pop No. 49).

In 1975, Sedaka was the opening act for The Carpenters on their world tour. According to The Carpenters: The Untold Story by Ray Coleman, manager Sherwin Bash “deliberately” fired Sedaka at the request of Richard Carpenter, allegedly because Sedaka was becoming more popular than the Carpenters. The firing resulted in a media backlash against The Carpenters after Sedaka publicly announced that he was off the tour.[citation needed] This was before Karen and Richard recorded Sedaka’s “Solitaire,” which became a Top 20 hit for the duo. Richard Carpenter denied that he had Sedaka fired for “stealing their show,” according to the widely-spread rumor. Richard Carpenter responded that he and Karen were proud of Sedaka’s success. Bash was fired as The Carpenters’ manager shortly thereafter. According to The Carpenters Story: Only Yesterday, a 2007 U.K. television biography, Bash claims that he was fired by Richard following a concert in Las Vegas after Sedaka, the opening act, introduced Tom Jones, who was in the audience. Bash states that it is customary for the headliner (in this case, The Carpenters) to introduce special guests. Bash stated that, after Richard fired him, Richard also fired Sedaka from the tour and Sedaka then fired Bash.

Overnight Success/The Hungry Years[edit]

In late 1975, Sedaka’s most successful year of his career continued as he earned yet more chart success with the release of his second Rocket Records album, The Hungry Years. This album was an American edition of Sedaka’s British Polydor album “Overnight Success.” The first single, “Bad Blood,” hit No. 1 on the Billboard 100 and stayed there for three weeks (October 11, 18 and 25, 1975), was certified Gold® by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and was the most individual commercially successful single of his career. Elton John provided uncredited backing vocals for “Bad Blood.” Despite their later falling out that resulted in Sedaka moving from Elton’s Rocket Records to Elektra, Sedaka has credited John as being responsible for his successful return to the U.S. pop music scene.[19] John has stated, “I only appear on the records of people I really know or like.”[17]

Another highlight from “The Hungry Years” was Sedaka’s new version of “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.” His 1962 original, a No. 1 hit single, was upbeat; the remake was a slow ballad, based on a similar arrangement by a Lenny Welch 1970 recording.[citation needed] Sedaka’s version hit No. 8 on the Hot 100 in early 1976, making him the only artist to ever record an entirely reinterpreted version of a song where both versions reached the Billboard Top 10. The 1976 ballad version also hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart.

Steppin’ Out[edit]

Later in 1976, Sedaka released a third (and final) album with Elton John’s label The Rocket Record Company, Steppin’ Out. The first single, “Love in the Shadows,” was an uncharacteristically solid rock song featuring a scorching guitar solo. While it peaked at No. 16 on the Hot 100, it was the first of his three “comeback” albums’ debut singles not to hit No. 1—or even the Top 10. The second single was the album’s title track, once again featuring Elton on uncredited backing vocals. While it cracked the Top 40 (peaking at No. 36), it would also signal the beginning of a slowdown in Sedaka’s music sales and radio play not unlike what he experienced in 1964 when The Beatles and the “British Invasion” arrived.

By this point, Elton John was starting to lose interest in Sedaka. Members of John’s inner circle, jealous of Sedaka’s success, worked to undermine the friendship by telling John falsehoods about Sedaka. Consequently, when it was time to renegotiate Sedaka’s contract with Rocket, John did not offer Sedaka the amount of money he was looking for, and he did not promote Steppin’ Out as extensively as he had Sedaka’s Back and The Hungry Years. Sedaka subsequently left Rocket and signed with Elektra Records.

Sedaka met John again several times after his departure from Rocket, and he described their meetings as “cordial, but cold”. The coldness eventually thawed, however and in the foreword to Sedaka’s 2013 biography, John wrote of their friendship in glowing and positive terms.[20]

Late 1970s[edit]

Transition from Rocket to Elektra[edit]

Sedaka’s new US label, Elektra, did not put as much effort into promoting Sedaka’s music as Elton John had at Rocket Records, and that, combined with the arrival of the disco era, marked another downturn in Sedaka’s career.

His first Elektra album, A Song, enjoyed only moderate success. Things got worse with his 1978 album All You Need Is the Music which was a dismal failure, because as Sedaka attempted to release disco-themed music himself in the late 1970s, his album sales were weak and singles could not get a foothold on the radio. However, on one track of “All You Need Is the Music” was a beautiful ballad called “Should’ve Never Let Her Go.” Sedaka released the song but it was not a success. In his next album, 1980’s In the Pocket, he released an early single in the autumn of 1979, “Letting Go,” which peaked just above the Hot 100. For the second single in the winter of 1980, Sedaka changed the lyrics and title to “Should’ve Never Let You Go,” and re-recorded the song with his then-17-year-old daughter, Dara. Their father-daughter duo, along with Frank and Nancy Sinatra and Nat “King” (posthumously) and Natalie Cole (via recording manipulation in “Unforgettable“, 1991) are the only father-daughter duets to reach the Top 40. Neil and Dara’s pairing would return Neil to the Top 20 for his last Hot 100 charted single, and also the Top 5 on the Adult Contemporary Chart.

Reissue of RCA-era recordings[edit]

Throughout the 1970s, Sedaka’s former record company, RCA, reissued his 1960s-era songs on compilation LPs on the RCA Victor and RCA Camden labels, a practice which continues to this day. The idea was to capitalize on Sedaka’s newfound popularity by making his RCA-era recordings available to younger generations of fans.

Sedaka also released a final album of new material with RCA, consisting of a live concert he gave in Sydney. The album was released on the RCA International label in Australia and Europe as Neil Sedaka on Stage in 1974. It saw a US release on the RCA Victor label in 1976 as Sedaka Live in Australia. The album’s songs were mostly cover versions of rock and pop songs from the previous 25 years, such as “Proud Mary“, “Everything Is Beautiful” and “The Father of Girls”.

For decades, RCA and Sedaka have disputed the ownership rights of Sedaka’s original master tapes from his late 1950s/early 1960s hits. RCA has released various repackagings of his old hits, prompting Sedaka to rerecord his old hits and make them sound as close and authentic to the originals as possible.

1980s and 1990s[edit]

Sedaka released one final album with Elektra – Neil Sedaka: Now in 1981. None of the songs on this album made any significant waves on the pop music charts.

During this time, Sedaka lost his father to cancer. Sedaka’s mother and father had moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the 1970s. Mac Sedaka had a tumor in his colon, and had it surgically removed. After that, they thought he would recover, but the cancer had spread to his bones. Neil was at his bedside singing his father’s favorite song, “Pictures From The Past” (a song he had recorded twice, in 1965 and 1981), when his father briefly awoke from his coma and then died a moment later, on June 6, 1981.

Meanwhile, due to the failure of “Now”, Sedaka left Elektra and signed with Curb Records. Sedaka recorded two albums on the Curb label – Come See About Me in 1983 and The Good Times in 1986. Both of these albums fared poorly on the charts and in sales, with only modest success for the singles released from those albums. After 1986, Sedaka was once again left without a record label.

He then created his own music label, ensuring that his catalog of hits would find the marketplace, and he released occasional CDs of self-produced new, original material. He also proved to be a popular concert draw on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, performing for thousands of adoring fans. To this day, he maintains a rigorous tour schedule.

Other successes[edit]

American singer-songwriter Ben Folds credited Sedaka on his iTunes Originals album as an inspiration for his own song-publishing career. When Folds heard that Sedaka had a song published by the age of 13, Folds set a similar goal, despite the fact that Sedaka did not actually publish until he was 16.[21]

In 1985, songs composed by Sedaka were adapted for the Japanese anime TV series Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. These included the two opening themes “Zeta-Toki wo Koete” (originally in English as “Better Days Are Coming”) and “Mizu no Hoshi e Ai wo Komete” (originally in English as “For Us to Decide”, but the English version was never recorded), as well as the end theme “Hoshizora no Believe” (written as “Bad and Beautiful”). Due to copyright restrictions, the songs were replaced for the North American DVD.

In 1994, Sedaka provided the voice for Neil Moussaka, a parody of himself in Food Rocks, an attraction at Epcot from 1994–2006.

A musical comedy based on the songs of Sedaka, Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,[22] was written in 2005 by Erik Jackson and Ben H. Winters; it is now under license to Theatrical Rights Worldwide.

A biographical musical, Laughter in the Rain, produced by Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield and starring Wayne Smith as Sedaka, had its world premiere at the Churchill Theatre in the London borough of Bromley on March 4, 2010. Sedaka attended the opening and joined the cast onstage for an impromptu curtain call of the title song.

Into the 21st century[edit]

Sedaka in 2005

Now in his 70s, Sedaka maintains a rigorous concert schedule in the U.S. and around the world. He was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1983,[23] has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was an October 2006 inductee of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. On November 15, 2013, Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters in Los Angeles gave him their Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award at a luncheon in his honor.[24]

American Idol[edit]

In May 2003, near the end of the second season of the Fox TV series American Idol, Sedaka appeared as a guest judge and mentor to the five remaining finalists. (The “guest judge” aspect of the series has long since been discontinued.) Several of the contestants’ performances from Sedaka’s songbook sparked particular praise from the guest judge. One of those performances came from eventual third-place finalist Kimberley Locke, who sang “Theme from Where the Boys Are“. The Sedaka/Greenfield composition was originally recorded by Connie Francis and became her signature song. Sedaka termed Locke’s performance “ear-licious.”

Eventual Season 2 runnerup Clay Aiken chose Sedaka’s 1972 song “Solitaire” for his performance. As Aiken explained to the studio and TV audiences, host Ryan Seacrest, and the four total judges, “Solitaire” had long been one of his mother’s all-time favorite songs. When she learned that Sedaka was going to be a guest judge and that the finalists would be singing Sedaka’s songs, she begged him to sing “Solitaire”. The performance was uniformly given extraordinarily high praise by the judges (including perennial skeptic Simon Cowell). Sedaka dissolved into tears, telling Aiken that he officially passed ownership of the performance of “Solitaire” to Clay, offering to record and produce a single of the song or an entire CD with him.

Although it did not appear on his debut CD itself, Aiken recorded and added “Solitaire” as the B-side to the single “The Way,” whose sales were faltering. “Solitaire” was quickly moved to the A-side, and radio airplay and single and download sales responded immediately. “Solitaire” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales chart and was, in fact, the top-selling single for all of 2004. It also hit the Top 5 on Billboard‍ ’​s Hot 100. Sedaka was invited back to American Idol to celebrate the success of “Solitaire” several times, as it continued to reach new milestones. Since then, Aiken has mined the Sedaka songbook again, recording a cover of probably Sedaka’s best-known song, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” on the “deluxe version” of his 2010 CD release, Tried and True.

Sedaka continues to be seen in the American Idol studio audience—most recently on May 19, 2011, when Seacrest had Sedaka stand and greet the audience on-camera during Season 10’s “Top 3” results show.

Amarillo – Guinness World Record[edit]

On a business trip to New York in mid-1971, Harvey Lisberg, who was a longtime fan of Sedaka, asked Don Kirshner if he’d written anything new. Kirshner took Lisberg to a small room with a piano where Sedaka was already seated, and he tapped out a few songs. One of these was the Sedaka/Greenfield composition “(Is This the Way to) Amarillo?” which Lisberg loved and placed with his artist Tony Christie who recorded and released it in 1971.[25] The song did relatively well on the UK singles chart, reaching the Top 20.

It lay dormant for more than three decades, when UK comic Peter Kay lip-synched it for a 2002 video in his TV series Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights. For the 2005 annual Comic Relief charity drive, he solicited a number of celebrity friends of his and updated the video, and it became an enormous hit. The original 1971 Tony Christie single was re-released to radio and CD/download sales, and hit No. 1 for seven weeks and was the biggest hit in Britain for all of 2005.

When interviewed for an “extras” feature for a DVD set of a concert filmed in London on April 7, 2006 (see below), Sedaka jokingly had heard that Christie had retired and was “golfing in Spain.”[26] The sudden revival of “Amarillo” summoned Christie back to the UK for an unexpected return to fame. Sedaka also released the song in the U.S. in 1977 as the shortened “Amarillo,” but it was only a mid-chart entry, peaking just shy of the Top 40. In early 2006, the song received new life yet again when a dance beat was added and the lyrics were revised to become a novelty hit, released as “Is This the Way to the (England) World Cup?”, to mark the appearance of the England football team at that summer’s FIFA World Cup finals .It was used yet again later that summer by the Central Band of the Royal British Legion prior to the Men’s Finals of the 2006 Wimbledon tennis tournament.[citation needed]

On April 7, 2006, Sedaka was appearing at the Royal Albert Hall and filming for the above-referenced CD/DVD package, when he was interrupted mid-concert by a gentleman who walked onstage from the wings. The planned scenario was that Sedaka was to begin performing “Amarillo”, and after one verse, the audience was to be surprised by the appearance of Christie for an eventual duet. But at the interruption, a seemingly annoyed Sedaka asked, “What is this?” The interloper was a representative from Guinness Records, and he was there to present Sedaka with an award from Guinness World Records: British Hit Singles and Albums for composing “(Is This the Way to) Amarillo?“, the most successful UK single of the 21st century (up to that date, of course).[27][28] After the presentation, Sedaka proceeded into “Amarillo”, Christie entered onstage to an eruption of cheers from the audience, and after the successful duet performance, the two men walked offstage together as the first half of Sedaka’s concert came to a close – with the entertainer the latest recipient of a new Guinness World Record.[citation needed]

New recording contract, new chart success[edit]

Since Sedaka had lost his recording contract in the mid-1980s, he had used his own business, Neil Sedaka Music, to finance the recording, production, and distribution of new CDs and repackaging of his existing catalog of music. Because of ongoing disputes with RCA Records over the ownership of Sedaka’s original late 1950s/early 1960s hits, in 1991, Sedaka re-recorded those early recordings, note-for-note. Sedaka has taken meticulous care of his voice over the years and still sings in the original keys recorded in his youth. This allowed him to repackage his catalog to include both his early recordings along with his mid- to late 1970s hits and later recordings.

In early 2007, Sedaka signed his first recording contract in nearly two decades with Razor and Tie Records, a small-but-growing, New York-based independent label with a talent roster that also includes Joan Baez, Vanessa Carlton, Foreigner, Joe Jackson, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The first release was The Definitive Collection, a life-spanning compilation of his hits, along with outtakes and songs previously released but unavailable in CD and/or download format. It debuted in the Top 25 on Billboards Top 200 Albums chart in May 2007, one of the highest-charting albums of his entire career. It also includes It Hurts to Be in Love, Sedaka’s version of the Gene Pitney hit which RCA had refused to release in 1964. Best known as a “singles artist,” this album chart activity was considered a significant comeback for the veteran entertainer. The last time Sedaka had an album on the Top 200 albums chart was in 1980, with his 1979 album In the Pocket – when “Should’ve Never Let You Go,” the 1980 duet with Sedaka and his daughter Dara, was Sedaka’s last Top 20 hit on the Hot 100 singles chart.

Waking Up Is Hard to Do was Sedaka’s next release with Razor and Tie, hitting the albums chart in May 2009. The CD was a children’s album that used the melodies of many of Sedaka’s best-known songs but changed the lyrics to fit, and hopefully have fun with, the everyday lives of babies and toddlers, along with their parents, grandparents, babysitters, and other caregivers. The CD title is an example. Lastly, The Music of My Life entered the albums chart in February 2010[29] and comprised almost all new material. The first track, “Do You Remember?,” is Sedaka’s first foray into spicy salsa and was produced by music producer, composer, and pianist David Foster. “Right or Wrong,” co-written with original music partner Howard Greenfield, was done in traditional street-corner, layered doo-wop vocal harmonies with Sedaka overlaying his own voice to achieve the effect for which he was well known in his “early” heyday of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The final track, “You”, has been previously released, but was remastered for this project and is one of several titles dedicated to his wife and career guide of nearly 50 years, Leba. Neil Sedaka Music continues to be listed as co-producer along with Razor and Tie.

A concert performance on October 26, 2007 at the Lincoln Center in New York City paid homage to the 50th anniversary of Sedaka’s debut in show business. Music impresario (and producer for The Music of My Life track “Do You Remember?”) David Foster served as emcee. Other guests included The Captain and Tennille; Natalie Cole; Connie Francis; recording legend and decades-long Sedaka friend and former manager Don Kirshner; and new Solitaire “owner” Clay Aiken, among many others. Also in 2007, Donny Osmond released a CD, Love Songs of the ’70s, which included a cover of Sedaka’s 1975 No. 1 hit “Laughter in the Rain.”

During his 2008 Australian tour, Sedaka premiered a new classical orchestral composition entitled “Joie de Vivre (Joy of Life).”[30] Sedaka also toured The Philippines for his May 17, 2008, concert at the Araneta Coliseum.[31]

In early 2010, his original uptempo version of “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” (performed by a group of uncredited singers) was being heard as the impetus for a series of insurance TV commercials, featuring actor Dennis Haysbert assuring that TV viewers not insured by Allstate can break up with their current insurer without much ado at all.

On September 11, 2010, Sedaka performed to a public and TV audience at the Hyde Park, London, venue of the “Proms in the Park” for the BBC. The UK continues to be probably Sedaka’s most welcoming nation, and has been since first moving his family there (temporarily) four decades ago. The irony of the place whose music scuttled his “first” career, namely the Beatles and the British Invasion, and yet has constantly welcomed him with open arms for more than 40 years, is not lost on him, he has stated in many interviews. Indeed, it was his work with the musicians who would, in a few years, become the hit-making group 10cc that brought him back to the U.S. as a major star with No. 1 hits and a number of other major Top 40 singles. The UK always takes up a major portion of Sedaka’s touring year in the 21st century.

In early 2011, Sedaka recorded two duets (“Brighton” and “The Immigrant“) with singer Jim Van Slyke for Van Slyke’s Neil Sedaka tribute album, The Sedaka Sessions. LML Records released this album in August 2011.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Sedaka attended Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, graduating in 1956.[33]

He and his wife Leba (née Strassberg) have been married since 1962. They have two children: a daughter, Dara, a recording artist and vocalist for television and radio commercials (who sang the female part on the Sedaka duet “Should’ve Never Let You Go”), and a son, Marc, a screenwriter who lives in Los Angeles with his wife Samantha and three children.

Discography[edit]

All-time No. 1 hits[edit]

Filmography[edit]

  • 1968 – Playgirl Killer
  • 2005 – The King of Queens (one episode, as himself)
  • 1980 – “The Toni Tennille show” (one episode as himself)

Autobiography[edit]

The Ronettes

The Ronettes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Ronettes
The Ronettes.JPG

The Ronettes in a promotional photo, 1966.
Background information
Also known as The Darling Sisters
Origin New York City, New York, U.S.
Genres
Years active 1959–66
Labels Colpix
Philles
Associated acts Darlene Love, Sonny and Cher, Johnny Rivers, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Crystals, The Paris Sisters
Members Veronica Bennett
Estelle Bennett
Nedra Talley
Past members Elaine Mayes
Chip Fields (Ronnie & the Ronettes)
Diane Linton (Ronnie & the Ronettes)

The Ronettes were an American R&B/Pop girl group from New York City. One of the most popular groups from the 1960s, they placed nine songs on the Billboard Hot 100, five of which became Top 40 hits. The trio from Spanish Harlem, New York,[1] consisted of lead singer Veronica Bennett (later known as Ronnie Spector), her older sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley. Among the Ronettes’ most famous songs are “Be My Baby“, “Baby, I Love You“, “(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up“, and “Walking in the Rain“, all of which charted on the Billboard Hot 100. “Walking in the Rain” won a Grammy Award in 1965, and “Be My Baby” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.[2] The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

The girls had sung together since they were teenagers, when they were known as “The Darling Sisters”. Signed first by Colpix Records in 1961, they moved to Phil Spector‘s Philles Records in March 1963, and changed their name to “The Ronettes.” In late 1964, the group released their only studio album, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica, which entered the Billboard charts at number 96. Rolling Stone ranked it number 422 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[3] The group were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004. The Ronettes were the only girl group to tour with the Beatles.

The early years (1950–61)[edit]

The Ronettes began as a family act where the girls grew up in Washington Heights, Manhattan. According to Nedra Talley, they started singing during childhood visits to their grandmother’s home.[4] “Estelle and Veronica are sisters,” she said in a later interview.[4] “I’m their cousin. Our mothers are sisters. We came out of a family that, on Saturday nights, home for us was at our grandmother’s, entertaining each other.”[4] The Bennetts’ mother was African-American and Cherokee; their father was Irish-American. Their cousin, Nedra Talley, is African-American and Puerto Rican.[5]

“By the time I was eight, I was already working up whole numbers for our family’s little weekend shows,” Ronnie Spector later recalled.[6] “Then Estelle would get up onstage and do a song, or she’d join Nedra or my cousin Elaine and me in a number we’d worked out in three-part harmony.”[7]

Furthering their interest in show business, Estelle was enrolled at Startime, a popular dancing school in the 1950s,[7] while Ronnie became fascinated with Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. In 1957, Ronnie formed the group which would later become known as the Ronettes.[8] Composed of Ronnie, her sister Estelle, and their cousins Nedra, Diane, and Elaine, the five girls learned how to perfect their harmonies first at their grandmother’s house, and they became proficient in songs such as “Goodnight Sweetheart” and “Red Red Robin”.[8] Emulating Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the girls added their male cousin Ira to the group, and were signed up for a Wednesday-night amateur show at the Apollo Theatre by a friend of Ronnie and Estelle’s mother.[8] The show started out as a disaster; when the house band started playing Frankie Lymon’s “Why Do Fools Fall in Love“, Ira didn’t sing a word, so Ronnie took over.[9] “I strutted out across the stage, singing as loud as I could,” Ronnie later recalled.[9] “When I finally heard a few hands of scattered applause, I sang even louder. That brought a little more applause, which was all I needed.”[9]

Colpix Records and The Peppermint Lounge (1961–63)[edit]

After their night at the Apollo, Ira, Elaine and Diane left the group. Renaming themselves “Ronnie and the Relatives”, Ronnie, Estelle and Nedra began taking singing lessons two afternoons a week. Appearing at local bar mitzvahs and sock hops, they met Phil Halikus, who introduced them to Colpix Records producer Stu Phillips.[10]

According to Ronnie, Phillips played the piano while the girls auditioned for him, singing “What’s So Sweet About Sweet Sixteen”.[11] Successful, they were brought into the studio in June 1961 and recorded four tracks: “I Want a Boy”, “What’s So Sweet About Sweet Sixteen”, “I’m Gonna Quit While I’m Ahead” and “My Guiding Angel”. Colpix released “I Want a Boy” in August 1961 and “I’m Gonna Quit While I’m Ahead” in January 1962, the first singles credited to Ronnie and the Relatives.[12]

While both singles failed to chart on the Billboard Top 100, fate intervened in advancing the group’s success. A fortuitous case of mistaken identity led to Ronnie and the Relatives making their debut – as dancers rather than a singing act – at New York City’s hip Peppermint Lounge in 1961.[13] It was the height of the Twist craze and the underage Nedra and Ronnie needed to disguise themselves to get in.[13] The girls’ mothers showed them how to put on make-up and fix their hair to make them look at least 23. When they arrived outside the club its manager mistook Ronnie, Estelle and Nedra for the trio supposed to dance behind house band Joey Dee and the Starliters. They followed him in, were brought up on stage, and performed in their place. During the show, Starliter David Brigati even handed the mike over to Ronnie when she started to sing Ray Charles‘s “What’d I Say.”[14]

Soon afterward, Ronnie and the Relatives became a permanent act at the Peppermint Lounge, earning $10 a night per girl to dance the Twist and usually sing a song at some point in the show. Ronnie and the Relatives then became the Ronettes.[15]

Later that year they were flown down to Miami to open up a Florida branch of the Peppermint Lounge.[16] Colpix issued the first two singles credited to the Ronettes, “Silhouettes” and a re-issue of “I’m Gonna Quit While I’m Ahead”, on its May label in April and June 1962, respectively. Both singles failed to chart.[17]

After their performance at the Miami gala, radio host Murray the K came backstage and introduced himself to the act. He wanted the girls to begin appearing at his shows at the Brooklyn Fox in New York. They agreed, taking the Fox stage in 1962 and completing a transition from Murray the K’s “Dancing Girls”, to back-up singing for other acts, to performing as the Ronettes before the year’s end.[18]

It was during this time the girls evolved their iconic look, wearing ever more exaggerated eye make-up and teasing their hair to impossible proportions. “We’d look pretty wild by the time we got out onstage,” Ronnie later recalled, “and the kids loved it.”[19]

Colpix’s May label issued one final single by the Ronettes in March 1963. When “Good Girls” failed to chart, the girls decided it was time to look elsewhere for studio work.[16]

Phil Spector and Philles Records (1963–66)[edit]

The Ronettes, 1966.

In early 1963, fed up with Colpix Records and the group’s lack of success, Estelle placed a phone call to producer Phil Spector, telling him of the Ronettes, and how they would like to audition for him.[20] Spector agreed, and met the girls soon after at Mira Sound Studios in New York City. Later, Spector told Ronnie that he had seen them at the Brooklyn Fox several times, and was impressed with their performances.[21] At the audition, Spector sat at a piano while the group began singing “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”, when he suddenly jumped up from his seat and shouted: “That’s it! That’s it! That’s the voice I’ve been looking for!”[22]

After their successful audition, Spector decided to sign the group. Originally, he wanted to sign Ronnie as a solo act, until her mother told him either he signed the Ronettes as a group or it was no deal.[23] He agreed to sign the group, and instructed Ronnie’s mother to inform Colpix Records that the girls had “given up” on show business, in order for the studio to let them out of their contract. By March 1963, the group was officially signed to Spector’s Philles Records.[23]

The first song the Ronettes rehearsed and recorded with Phil Spector was a song by Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich called “Why Don’t They Let Us Fall in Love“. They were brought out to California to make the record, but, once it was complete, Spector refused to release it.[24] They recorded more songs for Spector, including covers of “The Twist“, “The Wah Watusi” (lead vocals by Nedra), “Mashed Potato Time” and “Hot Pastrami”. These four songs were released, but were credited to The Crystals on their 1963 Philles LP The Crystals Sing The Greatest Hits, Volume 1.[25]

“Be My Baby”[edit]

Main article: Be My Baby

After being denied a release of their first recording, and having the credit for their next four recordings going to another group, the Ronettes went to work on the Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich song “Be My Baby“. The Ronettes recorded “Be My Baby” in July 1963, and it was released in August. By the fall of that year it had become a top 10 hit, peaking at number two on the Billboard Top 100. “Our lives were turned upside down,” Ronnie later recalled. “All the things I’d ever dreamed about were finally coming true.”[26]

“Be My Baby” turned out to be a huge record for the Ronettes. Radio stations constantly played the song throughout fall of 1963, and the Ronettes were invited to tour the country with Dick Clark on his “Caravan of Stars” tour.[27] “Be My Baby” inspired a legion of Ronettes fans, including Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, who wrote “Don’t Worry Baby” as a tribute to the group.[citation needed]

The song is also notable for being the first recording work by Cher, who performed back-up vocals with Estelle, Nedra and Sonny on the song. The girlfriend of Sonny Bono at the time (who was then working for Phil Spector), Cher was asked to join the back-up singers when one of them didn’t show up for the recording that day. “‘Be My Baby’ was the first record I ever sang on,” Cher later wrote. “… I went out and stood in front of this big speaker and sang ‘be my, be my baby’ with the Ronettes and all these other singers.”[citation needed]

After “Be My Baby”, Cher became a permanent backup singer for songs recorded by the Ronettes, along with other songs Phil Spector produced until “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.”[citation needed]

“Baby, I Love You”[edit]

After the overnight success of their first Phil Spector single, Spector was eager to do a follow-up with the Ronettes. He wrote “Baby, I Love You” again with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, and urged the Ronettes to leave New York for California to record the song at Spector’s Gold Star Studios. A problem arose because the Ronettes were scheduled to leave for Dick Clark’s “Caravan of Stars” tour across the United States. In lieu of having the Ronettes skip the Dick Clark tour, Spector decided to have Estelle and Nedra do the tour with their cousin, Elaine, who was a former member of the group. Ronnie left for California to record “Baby, I Love You” with Darlene Love, Cher, and Sonny substituting for Estelle and Nedra on the backing vocals.

“Baby, I Love You” had an even denser arrangement, featuring Leon Russell on piano. The song was recorded in the early fall of 1963 and released in November that year. It was slightly less successful, reaching #24 Pop, #6 R&B in the United States and #11 in the United Kingdom.[2][28]

A Christmas Gift For You[edit]

All three Ronettes, along with every other artist who was signed with Phil Spector in 1963, helped him complete his now-classic Christmas LP A Christmas Gift for You.[29] The Ronettes recorded three songs for the album: “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and, “Sleigh Ride.” All the artists sang on the album’s finale, “Silent Night“, which opened with a spoken message from Phil Spector, thanking everyone for buying the record.

In his desire for absolute perfection on the album, Spector pushed his artists to belt out their lyrics as powerfully as they could.[29] “The Christmas album was the one where I’d thought I’d lost it mentally.” Nedra later said.[29] “I heard the parts. I swore I’d put them down, but they said it wasn’t on the tape.”[29]

The album was not a success upon its initial release but has become considerably more popular since. It was re-released by Apple Records in 1972 and reached No. 6 on Billboard′s list of Christmas Albums that year.[29]

British tour, “Breakin’ Up” and “Do I Love You?”[edit]

The Ronettes left for their first tour of the UK in January 1964, where they made a strong impact from the very beginning.[30] “We must have been quite a sight in the Heathrow waiting room,” Ronnie Spector later recalled, “three black American girls sitting with their legs all crossed the same way, our three identical, enormous hairdos piled a foot or so over our heads. When our young chaperon finally showed up, he was all smiles.”[30]

On their first night in the UK, the Ronettes were taken to a party at Tony Hall‘s house where they were introduced to the Beatles. After a brief romance together, Ronnie and John Lennon remained friends until Lennon’s death. Estelle also dated George Harrison. But for Ronnie, one of the biggest thrills was meeting Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, who were the opening act for the Ronettes on their UK tour. The feeling was mutually shared by Richards, who wrote of his relationship with Ronnie: “The first time I ever went to heaven was when I awoke with Ronnie (later Spector!) Bennett asleep with a smile on her face. We were kids. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

When the Ronettes returned home from their British tour, they went right back into the studio to record “Keep on Dancing” and “Girls Can Tell”, two songs written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector. The group’s recording of “Keep on Dancing” is notable because it features Ronnie and Nedra singing in unison, but Spector refused to release the single. Around this time, the Crystals also recorded a version of “Girls Can Tell”, which also went unreleased.

“(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up” was subsequently recorded by the Ronettes. According to Ronnie, Spector was especially enthusiastic about the song.[31] “When Phil loved a song as much as he loved ‘(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up,'” she later wrote, “he could work on it for days without ever getting tired.”[31] Released in April 1964, the song did not fare as well as the group’s previous two singles, though it did manage to briefly break into the Billboard Top 40.

In June 1964, the group’s following single, “Do I Love You?”, was released, also breaking into the Top 40, beating their previous single by five positions. The song is most notable for its powerful instrumental opening, accompanied by finger snapping and hand clapping.

“Walking In The Rain”[edit]

As the British Invasion took full force on the American music scene in 1964, the Ronettes were one of few groups that were able to maintain their relevance. The group had made friends with the Beatles when they first toured the UK in January 1964. The Ronettes had even been asked by John Lennon to accompany the Beatles on their flight to America on February 7, 1964, but Spector denied the Ronettes the opportunity to do so.[32]

Throughout 1964, the Ronettes appeared on numerous television shows such as Shindig!, American Bandstand, Hullabaloo, and British TV show Ready, Steady, Go! As the popularity of other groups such as the Crystals, the Marvelettes, and the Angels began to wane, that of the Ronettes continued to grow.

In the summer of 1964, Ronnie went into the studio to record her lead on the group’s next single, “Walking in the Rain”. She later recalled that the writers – Phil Spector, Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil – were still adjusting the lyrics right up to the minute she recorded it. Ronnie recalled Phil placing headphones on her and telling her to listen closely. “Everything was quiet,” she later wrote, “Then all of a sudden I heard a low rumble, like there was thunder coming from every corner of the room.”[33] The thunder was used for the introduction, and was featured prominently throughout the remainder of the song, the only one of which Ronnie recorded in a single take.

“Walking in the Rain” became the group’s most successful single since “Be My Baby” (released over a year earlier), and peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Following the successful release of “Walking in the Rain,” Philles Records released the group’s first studio album, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica, in late 1964. The album proved to be slightly successful, peaking at #96 on the Billboard charts, but it is notable for being the first evidence of Phil Spector publicly promoting lead singer Veronica “Ronnie” Bennett over Estelle Bennett and Nedra Talley. Every Ronettes single after this referred to the group as “The Ronettes featuring Veronica” on the record labels.

Decline in popularity[edit]

With the success of “Walking in the Rain,” the popularity of the group had clearly peaked. In February 1965, Philles Records released the group’s next single, “Born to Be Together”, which peaked only at number 52 on the Billboard 100.

Over the course of the next year, the Ronettes recorded a whole catalog of songs, which Phil Spector refused to release once they were completed. Many attribute this to his insecurities and his love for the group’s lead singer, Ronnie. As the popularity of the Ronettes became greater and greater, the relationship between Spector and Ronnie became more serious, to the point of which they were basically living together. Spector then decided he didn’t want Ronnie and the Ronettes to become too popular, in fear they would one day outgrow him. So he tried to reverse the whole star-making process by not releasing the records the Ronettes were contractually obligated to make. This allowed for Motown group The Supremes to rise in popularity, and eclipse the Ronettes as the most popular girl group in the music industry.

Among the songs the Ronettes recorded during this time that went unreleased were “Paradise”, “Everything Under the Sun” and “I Wish I Never Saw the Sun Shine”. All three songs individually have since been covered by other artists such as The Shangri-Las, The Supremes, and Ike and Tina Turner, among others.

Perhaps their biggest loss was the Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich song “Chapel of Love“, which the Ronettes recorded in early 1964. They were the first to record their version of the song, but Spector refused to release it as a single. Their version of the song eventually did come out of their Philles LP, but by then The Dixie Cups had already achieved mainstream notoriety for it. “We thought it was such a great record that we practically begged [Phil Spector] to put it out,” Ronnie Spector later wrote.[34] “Then the Dixie Cups’ version came out and it was a smash! It was so depressing.”[34]

In June 1965, the Ronettes’ next single, “Is This What I Get For Loving You?“, was released, becoming only a minor hit, reaching only number 75 on the Billboard 100. The song was popular enough for the group to make appearances on the popular TV shows Hullabaloo, Hollywood A Go-Go and Shivaree, but it was a failed attempt to get the Ronettes another top ten hit, especially when The Supremes scored their fifth consecutive number-one record with “Back in My Arms Again“.

Some have also attributed the decline of the Ronettes’ recording career to the fact Phil Spector was not enthusiastic over his promotion of the group, which stemmed from his insecurities about his intimate relationship with Ronnie.[35]

There were also some problems within the group. “You also have to remember that Nedra and Estelle stood in the background while I got to bask in the spotlight,” Ronnie later wrote.[36] “I was the one who flew out to California and sang lead on all our records. I was the one deejays wanted to talk to. And I was the one our producer was in love with, which meant I get the preferential treatment in all kinds of other ways which drove them crazy.”[36]

“I hated the ‘dog-eat-dog’ side of show-business,” Nedra Talley later commented.[37] “I hated pushing for the next record and the feeling of failure if we didn’t get it. There was a continual demand on us to produce that I thought was unfair. My personality didn’t like that.”[37] Nedra’s disdain for show business also became partly fueled by her desire to marry and settle down with her boyfriend, DJ Scott Ross.

Opening for the Beatles[edit]

After “Is This What I Get for Loving You?” was released in June 1965, over a year passed before the group’s next single was released. “I Can Hear Music“, written by Phil Spector, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, was issued in October 1966, barely making it into the Billboard 100 by peaking at number 100 for exactly one week before it fell off the charts. The song was covered by The Beach Boys in 1969 with much greater success. The Ronettes 1966 original version of the song was produced by Jeff Barry.

From the start of their career, the Ronettes were always a popular live act. After “Be My Baby”, the group became headliners at several Murray the K Holiday Shows in NYC, and did package tours in the US and England. By late 1965, even without a recent hit, the group continued to make appearances at popular night clubs, on television shows, grace the covers of music magazines and be featured on The Big TNT Show, which was produced by Phil Spector as a concert that was filmed and released as a TV movie.

In August 1966, the Ronettes teamed up with the Beatles for a 14-city tour across America. Phil Spector became so enraged when Ronnie expressed a desire to accompany Estelle and Nedra on the tour that Ronnie was forced to remain in California with him while the girls’ cousin Elaine, who had previously been in the group, filled her slot on the tour, while Nedra assumed the lead vocals on stage. A picture published in the November 1966 issue of Ebony Magazine showed Nedra Talley singing lead, while Estelle and Elaine stood behind her singing harmony.

The group’s initial break-up[edit]

After their tour with the Beatles ended and “I Can Hear Music” failed to make an impact, the Ronettes left for a tour in Germany in early 1967, after which they agreed to break up and go their separate ways. Soon afterward Nedra Talley married her boyfriend Scott Ross, Ronnie married Phil Spector, and Estelle Bennett settled down with Joe Dong, a long-time boyfriend.

According to her accounts, Phil Spector kept Ronnie a near-prisoner in their 23-room mansion in California. He brought her into the studio only once during their marriage. During this session, which took place in early 1969 at A&M Records, she recorded “You Came, You Saw, You Conquered!” The song was released in March 1969, failing to make an impact on the radio stations, which were now playing the music in the style of Janis Joplin and Grace Slick.

Later in 1969, Ronnie and Estelle were invited into the studio by Jimi Hendrix to record backing vocals on “Earth Blues”. Their work on the song earned the Ronettes a credit on the LP Rainbow Bridge.[citation needed]

The Ronettes briefly return[edit]

Ronnie left Phil on June 12, 1972. The couple’s divorce was finalized two years later in 1974.[38] As she made an attempt to restore her career, she decided to reform the Ronettes. Nedra had no interest in returning to the group, and Estelle mentally could no longer handle the burden of performing due to her struggle with mental illness.[39] Ronnie then replaced them with Chip Fields (mother of The Facts of Life and Living Single star Kim Fields) and Denise Edwards. Ronnie, Chip, and Denise recorded some songs for Buddah Records in the mid-1970s, one of which was a cover of “I Wish I Never Saw the Sun Shine”, a song Ronnie had first done in 1965, though Phil Spector had refused to release it.

The stint at Buddah Records did not prove to be successful, though the group made several tours together throughout the 1970s. By the end of the decade, however, Ronnie had abandoned the idea of continuing the Ronettes, and decided to begin her solo career.[citation needed]

Later events[edit]

Ronnie Spector in 2010 singing “Be My Baby” to Michael Musto.

In 1988, the original Ronettes sued Phil Spector for nonpayment of royalties. In 2001, a New York court announced a verdict in favor of the Ronettes, ordering Spector to pay $3,000,000 dollars in back royalties. The judgment was overturned by the Court of Appeals in 2002 and remanded back to the Supreme Court. The final outcome had Spector paying a judgment in excess of 1.5 million dollars to the Ronettes.[citation needed]

In 2009 Estelle died of colon cancer at the age of 67 in Englewood, New Jersey.[citation needed]

Awards and recognition[edit]

The Ronettes’ influence on music was significant. In addition to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen have both cited Ronnie Bennett as an influence.[40] Recently, their fashion style was emulated popularly by British musician Amy Winehouse.

The Ronettes won a Grammy Award in 1965 for “Walking in the Rain”. The Ronettes were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for “Be My Baby” in 1999. The Ronettes were also inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, and the People’s Hall of Rock and Roll Legends in 2010.[41]

It was reported that Phil Spector, in his capacity as a member of the Board of Governors, resisted the Ronettes (and Darlene Love) being nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, although they had been eligible for a considerable time. The alleged reasons included the acrimonious divorce of Ronnie and Spector, in addition to the group’s having unsuccessfully sued Spector for back royalties. Spector claimed that, apart from Ronnie, the other group members did not appear on their records, and that they did not make the contribution required for induction.[42] While Spector was awaiting trial on a murder charge and out on $1 million bail, the Ronettes were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 12, 2007, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Keith Richards, a longtime fan, inducted the trio. Ronnie Bennett (Spector) and Nedra Talley performed “Baby I Love You”, “Walking in the Rain” and “Be My Baby”. Estelle Bennett was present to accept her award, but was not well enough to perform, so Tricia Scotti (a regular backup singer with Ronnie) took her place behind the microphone.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums

Pop references[edit]

  • Ronnette is the name of one of the girl group-inspired street urchin characters in the musical Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Ronnie Spector accompanied Eddie Money on the 1986 hit song “Take Me Home Tonight“. She sang the title line from “Be My Baby” and is also name-checked in the song’s lyrics.
  • In an interview, the Danish band the Raveonettes stated that their name is “a complete direct reference to the Ronettes and Buddy Holly Rave On!.”[43] They invited Ronnie Spector to sing with them on their third album Pretty in Black, on a song named “Ode to L.A.”