Howard Greenfield

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Howard Greenfield
Born(1936-03-15)March 15, 1936
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died March 4, 1986(1986-03-04) (aged 49)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation(s) Lyricist and songwriter

Howard Greenfield (March 15, 1936 – March 4, 1986) was an American lyricist and songwriter, who for several years in the 1960s worked out of the famous Brill Building. He is best known for his successful songwriting collaborations, including one with Neil Sedaka from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, and a near-simultaneous (and equally successful) songwriting partnership with Jack Keller throughout most of the 1960s.

Brill Building office building in New York City

The Brill Building is an office building located at 1619 Broadway on 49th Street in the New York City borough of Manhattan, just north of Times Square and further uptown from the historic musical Tin Pan Alley neighborhood. It is famous for housing music industry offices and studios where some of the most popular American songs were written. It is considered to have been the center of the American music industry that dominated the pop charts in the early 1960s.

Neil Sedaka American musician

Neil Sedaka is an American pop singer, pianist, composer and record producer. Since his music career began in 1957 as a short-lived founding member of the Tokens, 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.

Jack Keller (songwriter) American songwriter

Jack Walter Keller was an American composer, songwriter and record producer. He co-wrote, with Howard Greenfield and others, several pop hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including "Just Between You and Me", "Everybody's Somebody's Fool", "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own", "Venus in Blue Jeans" and "Run to Him". He also wrote the theme songs for TV series including Bewitched and Gidget, and later worked in Los Angeles – where he wrote for, and produced, The Monkees – and in Nashville.



Greenfield co-wrote four songs that reached #1 on the US Billboard charts: "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do", as recorded by Sedaka; "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" and "Breakin' in a Brand New Broken Heart", both as recorded by Connie Francis, and "Love Will Keep Us Together", as recorded by Captain & Tennille.

Everybodys Somebodys Fool song, #1 hit for Connie Francis in 1960

"Everybody's Somebody's Fool" is a song written by Jack Keller and Howard Greenfield that was a No. 1 hit for Connie Francis in 1960. A polka-style version in German, "Die Liebe ist ein seltsames Spiel", was the first German single recorded and released by Connie Francis, and it reached No. 1 on the single chart in 1960 in West Germany.

"Breakin' in a Brand New Broken Heart" is a popular song written by Howard Greenfield and Jack Keller. It was recorded by Connie Francis in an October 18, 1960, New York City session conducted and arranged by Stan Applebaum; the same session produced "Where the Boys Are" to which "Breakin' in a Brand New Broken Heart" was released as the follow-up single in April 1961, reaching the Top 10 in May with a Billboard Hot 100 peak of #7.

Connie Francis American singer

Connie Francis is an American pop singer and top-charting female vocalist of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Although her chart success waned in the second half of the 1960s, Francis remained a top concert draw. Despite several severe interruptions in her career, she is still active as a recording and performing artist.

He also co-wrote numerous other top 10 hits for Sedaka (including "Oh! Carol", "Stairway to Heaven", "Calendar Girl", "Little Devil", "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen", and "Next Door to an Angel"); Francis (including the "Theme to Where The Boys Are " and "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own"); the Everly Brothers ("Crying in the Rain"); Jimmy Clanton ("Venus in Blue Jeans") and the Shirelles ("Foolish Little Girl"). Greenfield also co-wrote the theme songs to numerous 1960s TV series, including Gidget , Bewitched , The Flying Nun and Hazel .

Oh! Carol 1959 song performed by Neil Sedaka

"Oh! Carol" is an international hit written by Neil Sedaka in 1958. The song was co-written with Howard Greenfield. The song reached #9 in the American charts in 1959. It also earned Sedaka his first #1 ranking when it went to #1 on the Italian charts for four weeks in January 1960. After release of single, it was included in the album Neil Sedaka Sings Little Devil and His Other Hits. The song is noted for Sedaka's spoken recitation of the verse, the second time around.

Stairway to Heaven (Neil Sedaka song) 1960 single by Neil Sedaka

"Stairway to Heaven" is a song written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. It was released as a 45 rpm single and appeared on Sedaka's 1960 album Neil Sedaka Sings Little Devil and His Other Hits.

Calendar Girl (song) song by Neil Sedaka

"Calendar Girl" is a song by Neil Sedaka. The music was composed by Sedaka and the lyrics by Howard Greenfield. Recorded in 1960 and released in 1961, it was a Top-5 hit single for Sedaka, peaking at #4 on the US charts, #3 in Australia, and #1 on the Canadian and Japanese charts.

In 2005, "Is This The Way To Amarillo", a song Greenfield had written with Sedaka in the early 1970s, reached #1 on the UK charts in the original 1971 version by Tony Christie. The video featured an all-star celebrity line-up lip-synching the track, and the proceeds went to charity. The record stayed at #1 for 7 weeks, and became the UK's best-selling record of the millennium to that time.

Tony Christie English musician, singer and actor

Tony Christie is an English musician, singer and actor. He is best known for his recording of "(Is This The Way To) Amarillo", a double UK chart success. He lived for many years in Sheffield where his wife, Sue, was born. He used to be a frequent artist on the stage at many working men's clubs like his contemporary, Joe Cocker.


Born in Brooklyn, New York City, by his late teens Greenfield formed a songwriting partnership with Neil Sedaka, a friend whom he had first met as a teenager when they both lived in the same apartment building, in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn. [1] Greenfield was educated at Abraham Lincoln High School. [2]

Brooklyn Borough in New York City and county in New York state, United States

Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York City, with an estimated 2,648,771 residents in 2017. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, it borders the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Brooklyn has several bridge and tunnel connections to the borough of Manhattan across the East River, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects Staten Island. Since 1896, Brooklyn has been coterminous with Kings County, the most populous county in the U.S. state of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, after New York County.

Brighton Beach Neighborhood in Brooklyn in New York City

Brighton Beach is a neighborhood in the southern portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, along the Coney Island peninsula and facing the Atlantic Ocean. Brighton Beach is bounded by Coney Island proper at Ocean Parkway to the west, Manhattan Beach at Corbin Place to the east, Sheepshead Bay at the Belt Parkway to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south along the beach and boardwalk.

Their first recorded compositions took up both sides of the 1956 non-charting debut single by the Tokens, of which Sedaka (but not Greenfield) was briefly a member. [3] They then went on to supply the song "Passing Time" to the Cookies, [4] as well as other non-hit singles to doo-wop and groups the Clovers and the Cardinals. [5] At this point, though their songs were being recorded, the income derived from these songs was minimal, and Greenfield worked as a messenger for National Cash Register. [6]

The Tokens vocal group

The Tokens are an American male doo-wop-style vocal group and record production company group from Brooklyn, New York. They are known best for their chart-topping 1961 single, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".

The Cookies American R&B girl group

The Cookies were an American R&B girl group active from 1954 to 1967. Members of the original lineup later became the Raelettes, the backing vocalists for Ray Charles.

The Clovers rock band

The Clovers are an American rhythm and blues/doo-wop vocal group who became one of the biggest selling acts of the 1950s. They had a top thirty US hit in 1959 with the Leiber and Stoller song "Love Potion No. 9".

In 1958, Greenfield and Sedaka signed to Al Nevins and Don Kirshner's Aldon Music as songwriters, which had offices at 1650 Broadway in New York. (The company later moved to the Brill Building.) In their first year there, Greenfield and Sedaka wrote material for Jimmy Clanton and Bobby Darin, [7] and scored their first major pop hit single with Connie Francis' "Stupid Cupid", which hit #14 on the US pop charts in September 1958. They also wrote Francis' later hits, "Fallin'", "Frankie", and the "Theme to Where the Boys Are ," the film in which she starred.[ citation needed ]

When, in 1958, Sedaka signed to RCA Records as a solo artist, he and Greenfield composed a string of hits for Sedaka to record – among them "The Diary", "Oh! Carol", "Stairway to Heaven", "Calendar Girl", "Little Devil", "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen", "Next Door to an Angel" and the chart-topping "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do". Sedaka's recordings eventually sold a combined 25 million records. [8]

As Sedaka's promotional and touring commitments began taking up more and more of his time, Kirshner encouraged Greenfield to collaborate with other Aldon writers. Beginning in 1960, Greenfield began a regular collaboration with Jack Keller; they would write songs together every Monday and Wednesday for six straight years. [9]

Successful Greenfield/Keller collaborations included two consecutive US #1 hits for Connie Francis, "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" and "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own". They wrote another Francis top 10 hit, "Breakin' in a Brand New Broken Heart", Jimmy Clanton's top 10 hit "Venus in Blue Jeans", as well as songs recorded by Frank Sinatra, Ernest Tubb, Patti Page and Brenda Lee. [10] Greenfield and Keller also supplied the theme music for U.S. television programs such as Gidget , Bewitched and The Flying Nun .[ citation needed ]

Greenfield also collaborated with other Aldon songwriters, including Helen Miller, with whom he co-wrote "Foolish Little Girl" (the Shirelles' final Top Ten hit), "It Hurts to Be in Love", originally intended for Neil Sedaka but ultimately recorded by Gene Pitney, as well as a new theme for the TV series Hazel for its fourth season. [11] He also collaborated with Bill Buchanan recording a novelty record called "The Invasion" as Buchanan and Greenfield in 1964.

As well, Greenfield's one and only collaboration with Aldon songwriter Carole King resulted in "Crying in the Rain", a top ten hit for the Everly Brothers in 1962. The collaboration came about when, on a whim, two Aldon songwriting partnerships decided to switch partners for a day—Gerry Goffin (who normally worked with King) partnered with Jack Keller, leaving King and Greenfield to work as a pair for the day. Despite the commercial success of their collaboration, King and Greenfield never wrote another song together. [12]

Sedaka and Greenfield also continued to work together as Sedaka's schedule allowed. After Sedaka's singing career cooled in 1963, they kept writing hits for other artists, including the 5th Dimension's and Tom Jones' "Puppet Man".

Greenfield moved to Los Angeles in 1966, [13] but still continued to collaborate with Sedaka and Keller, both of whom moved to California within a year or two of Greenfield.

Sedaka began working with other lyricists in 1970, though he and Greenfield still occasionally worked together after this time; Sedaka and Greenfield ended their songwriting partnership in 1973. Their last collaboration, appropriately named "Our Last Song Together," would be a minor hit for Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods. In 1975, their song "Love Will Keep Us Together" (originally recorded by Sedaka in 1973) topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in a cover version by Captain & Tennille, as well as earning a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. This version of "Love..." was the best-selling single of the year.

Though no new compositions of Greenfield's charted after this time, Sedaka had a substantial hit in 1975 with a drastically re-arranged version of the Greenfield/Sedaka composition "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do". As well, a re-release of the Greenfield/Sedaka song "Is This The Way To Amarillo" (originally a UK hit for Tony Christie in 1971) became the UK's best-selling record of 2005.

Personal life

Greenfield was openly gay, [14] although during the era in which he lived it was unusual to be open about this. His companion from the early 1960s to his death was cabaret singer Tory Damon (September 29, 1939 – March 30, 1986); the two lived together in an apartment on East 63rd Street in Manhattan before moving to California in 1966. [15]

Death and legacy

Greenfield died in Los Angeles in 1986 from complications from AIDS, eleven days before his 50th birthday. He was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Damon died from AIDS complications a few days later and is buried next to Greenfield. [16]

In 1991, Greenfield was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.


See also


"After Howie's mother Ella had seen me, he came ringing my doorbell. I was playing Chopin, and he said, My mother heard you play and thought we could write a song together". – Neil Sedaka, in Goldmine magazine, recalling this event. [4]

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  1. Berger, Joseph. "Vintage Pop Star With the Soul of a Bar Mitzvah Boy", The New York Times , May 24, 2004; accessed September 23, 2009. "Several years before enrolling in Juilliard, he had been introduced to a neighbor with a touch of the poet, Howard Greenfield, and they became a songwriting team for the next 20 years."
  2. Staff. "HOWARD GREENFIELD", The New York Times , March 14, 1986; accessed September 23, 2009. "Mr. Greenfield was born in New York City on March 15, 1936, and began his songwriting career with Neil Sedaka, a classmate at Lincoln High School in Brooklyn."
  3. Emerson, Ken (2005) Always Magic in the Air: The Bomp and Brilliance of the Brill Building Era, Viking, New York, ISBN   0-670-03456-8, p. 70.
  4. 1 2 History of Rock website – accessed December 2107
  5. Emerson, p. 71.
  6. Emerson, pg. 72.
  7. Emerson, p. 104.
  8. Profile,; accessed May 23, 2018.
  9. Emerson, pg. 108.
  10. Emerson, pg. 109.
  11. Emerson, p. 111, 188.
  12. Emerson, pg. 111.
  13. Emerson, p. 188.
  14. Emerson, p. 107.
  15. Emerson, pp. 107, 188.
  16. Emerson, pg. 264.
  17. Pye Records no. 7N.15300/45.XX.1300-A, crediting authorship of song to Sedaka and Greenfield, as shown on YouTube upload