1959 Neil Sedaka – The Diary
When Neil Sedaka was only 13, one of the women who lived in the same apartment building as his family heard him playing the piano. She introduced Neil to Howard Greenfield, her son. Howard was writing poetry and aspired to write lyrics for songs. Neil and Howard began working together to write songs, and they continued their partnership off and on through 1975.
Neil joined the Linc-Tones. The group changed their name to The Tokens and recorded a song written by Neil and Howard, I Love My Baby. The single came out on Melba Records in 1956 but failed to chart nationally.
In 1958, Neil had left the group to pursue a solo career. The Tokens changed their lineup and finally started reaching the charts in 1961.
Neil recorded three songs without finding much success. He and Howard went to work for Aldon Music as songwriters (the label was owned by Don Kirshner and Al Nevins and later moved the pair into the infamous Brill Building).
Connie Francis reached #4 on the charts in 1958 with the song Who’s Sorry Now, after which she struggled to record a successful record. She met with Neil and Howard and they pitched her a series of songs they had written. When she started writing in her diary at the meeting, the songwriters asked if they could read the diary, hoping to find some ideas for songs.
Connie declined. She also complained that their songs were “too intellectual” for teenagers and prepared to end the meeting.
Howard then suggested that Neil play a song that they had written that morning for the Shepherd Sisters. Connie loved the song and recorded Stupid Cupid, which reached #14 on the Hot 100 in 1958.
While the pair never got to read Connie’s diary, that meeting did leave them with an idea for a song: The Diary features a lament about wishing to read a girl’s diary. They presented the song to Little Anthony and the Imperials, who recorded and released the song as a single in 1958.
Unhappy with the sound of that single (or perhaps just unsatisfied when the single failed to chart), Neil decided to record the song himself. It began his first single for the RCA Victor label and reached #14 on the Hot 100 in February 1959.
Neil recorded another half-dozen top ten records for RCA but the British Invasion buried his career in the mid-sixties. Ironically, his revived his career by moving to England in the early seventies.
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