After a series of massive hits in the early 1960s ( “Calendar Girl,” “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen”) and a sharp career decline post-British Invasion, singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka staged an improbable comeback after Elton John signed him to his newly formed Rocket Records label in 1973.
“It had been like Elvis coming up and giving us the chance to release his records. We couldn’t believe our luck,” the future Sir Elton, a huge Neil Sedaka fan, said at the time.
The second album Sedaka released on Rocket Records was The Hungry Years in 1975. “Bad Blood,” the first single from the album was essentially a “call and response” style duet between Neil Sedaka and an un-credited Elton. The song’s lyrics basically essay two “bros” giving a third some hard-knock advice about a woman who is taking advantage of him. (Don’t expect that you’ll ever be hearing “Bad Blood” sung by two female contestants on Duets is all I have to say!)
“Bad Blood” spent three weeks at the top of the US singles chart in October and was certified gold. (The song would ironically be knocked off its #1 perch by Elton John’s “Island Girl.” I recall buying both singles as an Elton John crazy 9-year-old with my birthday money and playing both records until the grooves wore out).
Sedaka, now a very spry 73, and with his voice holding up perfectly, is still performing, including prestige gigs like the BBC’s “Proms in the Park” festival and a concert at Lincoln Center. When British comedian Peter Kay lip-synced a song of Sedaka’s, “(Is This the Way to) Amarillo?”, forComedy Relief in 2006, the song, as originally sung by Tony Christie and released in 1971, became a massive hit all over again, garnering a Guinness World Record for the “most successful UK single of the 21st century” (at least as of 2006, of course). The song can also often be heard at soccer matches.