Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Neil Sedaka

When it comes to immensely prolific singer-songwriters, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame does not always get it right.  Carole King, who had an immensely popular career as a performer, is inducted as a non-performing songwriter.  Laura Nyro, a performer whose songs were vastly more famous in their versions covered by musicians such as Three Dog Night and Barbra Streisand [1].  Other artists, like Neil Sedaka, are not inducted at all.  As the writer of more than 500 songs, including a huge number of big hits covered by other artists, most lamentably Captain & Tenille, Neil Sedaka is clearly worthy of being inducted as a songwriter, without any dispute whatsoever, as a list of his detailed discography ought to make plain [2].  Likewise, a perusal of his chart success indicates that he had a lengthy and productive and popular career, which we will shortly go into in much grater detail.  Given Sedaka’s importance both as the writer of material that other people made famous and as a performer in his own right, it would not be too much to expect that an induction both as a songwriter and as a performer would be appropriate in his case, as it would be for Carole King.  To be inducted in neither category, is absolutely ridiculous, given the immense influence that Neil Sedaka had as both a performer starting in the 1950’s as well as a songwriter of the first rank.

The Influence Of Neil Sedaka

The influence of Neil Sedaka can be determined by the fact that a cover band like Captain & Tenille would not have been nearly as popular without having his songs to cover.  This influence was notable enough that Tenille even sang “Sedaka’s back” at the end of at least one of the songs that the duo covered, in obvious appreciation for the fact that having a Neil Sedaka comeback meant that there were awesome album tracks to cover and release as hit singles for themselves.  The failures of Captain & Tenille as a performing act must be taken aside, and not held against the songwriter and original recording artist of so many of their hits.  Even aside from this matter, Sedaka’s influence is notable.  Songwriter Ben Folds, for example, credits the example of Neil Sedaka as inspiring him to write and publish songs as a teenager [3]. Like Connie Francis [4], Neil Sedaka recorded hit singles not only in English, but also in Italian, German, Japanese, Hebrew, and Canadian French, showing an influence as an artist clearly able to cross borders and not only have immense success in the United States as a musician but also perform hits in local languages, an example imitated by other contemporary crossover world music artists like Celine Dion and Luis Miguel [5].  Whether as an immensely prolific songwriter or as a performer in his own right, Neil Sedaka has made the career of others possible, whether we like those careers or not, and given a path to international stardom for those who are as gifted linguistically as he is.

Why Neil Sedaka Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Neil Sedaka started out as a singles artist in the 1950’s with a slew of hits, including such notable ones as “Carole” (a top ten in the 1950’s), “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” (a #1 in the 1960’s), “Stairway To Heaven,” “Calendar Girl,” and “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen” (all top tens in the 1960’s), “Laughter In The Rain” and “Bad Blood” (both #1 hits in the 1970’s), and “That’s When The Music Takes Me,” “The Immigrant,” “Love In The Shadows,” and “Steppin’ Out” (all top 40 hits in the 1970’s), as well as one top 40 hit in the 1980’s, “Should’ve Never Let You Go.”  His numerous successful albums in addition to this would give him a solid level of success as an artist to be inducted.  That is not even taking into consideration the way that his compositions were a goldmine for other artists and the fact that he started music publishing as a teen, and the fact that his songwriting [6] has given him a spot, well-earned, in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  How this resume has not gotten him inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is incomprehensible.

Why Neil Sedaka Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

There really is no good reason why Neil Sedaka isn’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  If one holds his teen pop success against him, then it is worthwhile to note that unlike the vast majority of teen pop acts he actually wrote his own material and made it successful.  If he is to have it held against him that his album tracks were covered by Captain & Tenille and that he had success singing on Elton John’s music label in the 1970’s, then any great artist is as vulnerable as the worst covers or their most uncool associates.  Most musicians would not fare well by that standard, it should be noted–as Nelly’s duets with Tim McGraw and the Florida-Georgia Line would indicate, to take an example at random.  And why wouldn’t someone be remembered not for their friends but for their music–especially if they wrote a lot of it and it was excellent music?

Verdict:  Put him in.  There’s really no excuse why he’s not in as either a songwriter or a performer, much less both.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-three-dog-night/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-barbra-streisand/

[2] See, for example:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Sedaka_discography

[3] “NPR Programs: Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! Podcast”. Npr.org. Retrieved 2016-09-19.

[4] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-connie-francis/

[5] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-luis-miguel/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-celine-dion/

[6] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/book-review-who-did-it-first-great-pop-cover-songs-and-their-original-artists

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Neil Sedaka

  1. Steven Roskowski says:

    PUT NEIL IN!!!

  2. George Cameron says:

    Total joke that Neil is not in especially when taking into account some the so called musicians (rap for example) that are included. Long and successful career. I don’t have any respect for he rock & roll hall of fame until they start correcting all of early pioneers who have who are being neglected!

  3. Linda Stancati says:

    Put neil sedaka in the rock and roll hall of fame, are you people kidding g me , he is a tremendous talent and this is long overdue

  4. Richard Sternberg says:

    Biggest travesty that Neil Sedaka is not in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. He epitomizes what Rock and Roll was all about, unlike some of the current superstars who have been inducted.

  5. Ruben Delgadillo says:

    Neil Sedaka definitely belongs but The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is getting too political but I’m sure Neil would still feel honored to be inducted in it.

  6. Tom strang says:

    One of the ALL TIME BEST…..as a performer and writer !!!

  7. Rick says:

    He wasn’t my favorite but he’s the most talented guy An should be in the hall of fame . To think of some of the ones they put in how couldn’t hold a candle to Sedaka is a shame . That’s why I think it’s Crooked no doubt about just like the academy awards , fake put in how the want

  8. Jennie says:

    I wish those who choose who goes into the hall of fame would give all of us a good reason why he IS NOT !!! He is as good as most and better than alot of them. Add all the songs he’s written and it really becomes a travesty !!!

    • That’s a good challenge; I’m not sure how many other inductees have talked about him in the past, or thanked him for the songs he wrote for them and so on and so forth.

    • Ozzie Klunk says:

      If the Rock Hall had to explain why your favourite and my favourite and everyone else’s favourite non-inductees are not there, they would not have time for anything else. In many cases, it’s politics. Sometimes it’s personal. The Rock Hall and all the other halls have the same problem: once the immortals, the ones we all agree on get in, then the arguments start. There’s a lot of discussion along those lines on You Tube.

      • In many ways that is so. I would not argue that all of the many bands I have written about are personal favorites, although most of them are favorites of at least some people. It should be noted, though, that not all Halls of Fame have the same problem that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame does when it comes to having a lot of excluded people worthy of being inside of it. The NFL Hall of Fame, for example, does not have a great many snubs. The situation of rock & roll is more like baseball.

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