eil Sedaka's comeback in the '70s was even more successful than his '60s career. In the short span of eight months, three songs that he wrote went to number one: "Laughter in the Rain," "Love Will Keep Us Together" and "Bad Blood."
His Las Vegas career had a false start. Signed to be the opening act for the Carpenters at the Riviera Hotel, Neil was getting a better reception from critics and audiences than Richard and Karen. One night, Sedaka introduced Dick Clark and Tom Jones in the audience. The next day he was asked to leave the show. He did, but not before signing a contract with the Riviera to return as a headliner.
The follow-up to "Laughter in the Rain" was "The Immigrant," a song Neil dedicated to John Lennon because of his problems with the United States government in obtaining permission to remain in America. The song peaked at 22 and another single from Sedaka's Back was released, "That's Where the Music Takes Me."
Neil waited for major radio stations to add his new single. Then came some good news: the influential RKO chain had added a new Neil Sedaka song to their playlists. The bad news was, it wasn't "That's Where the Music Takes Me." It was an album track from Overnight Success, a British LP that wasn't even released in the United States.
What may have influenced RKO programming chief Paul Drew to add the song was the fact that the owner of the record label was singing background vocals. "Bad Blood" did not list him in the credits, but Elton John could clearly be heard on the track. After he had written "Bad Blood" with Phil Cody, Sedaka suggested to producer Robert Appere that it could be recorded as a duet. Neil asked Elton to come to Clover Studios in Los Angeles to sing the backing vocal and he agreed.
The record was rush released by Rocket in America after the surprise airplay from RKO. While Neil may be primarily remembered for "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," his most successful single is really "Bad Blood," which sold 1.4 million copies and was number one for three weeks.
With a couple of track changes, the Overnight Success album was retitled The Hungry Years for American release. Neil's follow-up to "Bad Blood" was a new arrangement of "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do." Instead of a 1962 pop song, it was transformed into a contemporary ballad. The new version went to number eight, and it is the only number one single to be re-recorded by the same artist and become a Top 10 hit all over again.
After three more chart singles on Rocket, Neil signed with Elektra Records. His biggest success on the label was a duet with his daughter Dara, "Should've Never Let You Go." In 1983 he moved to MCA/Curb and again charted with Dara on a cover version of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Your Precious Love," making Sedaka one of the handful of artists whose chart success span four decades.
- Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard, 1988.
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