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SOLITAIRE

cam89

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
From Neil Sedaka's LAUGHTER IN THE RAIN book

CHAPTER 26...THE CARPENTERS...


After weeks of rest my health was back to normal. Karen and Richard Carepnter, clients of BNB, were abou to embark on a six-week tour, beginning on the East Coast in open-air theaters, continuing to Vegas, and finally to Japan. Elliot told me that Richard wanted me as their opening act. Elliott recommended it-The Carpenters played to my kind of audience. "Also," he said, "SEDAKA'S BACK is still not selling despite 'LAUGHTER[IN THE RAIN]'s number one postion and a tour might help." I agreed.

Richard created a very clever show, combining a number of familiar old hits with more current material. I was to come on at the beginning of the show and do thirty-five minutes, and return to the stage at the end to sing several encores with Karen and Richard.

We opened the tour at Ben Segal's Oakdale Music Theatre in the Round in Wallingford, Connecticut. At our first show I was a nonstop bundle of energy from start to finish and the audience was cheering all the way. Then Karen and Richard came on to do their portion of the program. Karen had an exquisite voice, and their songs and music were tasteful and musically superb. Richard's piano was the perfect complement to this beautiful, mellow, romantic music. However in contrast to my thirty-five minutes, their act was quiet and subdued. Everything sounded the same, whereas my songs were varied. You could sense the difference in the audience's response. They were appreciated but unexcited, and the Carpenters received only mild applause. While I was obviously thrilled to be onstage, The Carpenters seemed to walk through their act.

When the first reviews came out in the Connecticut papers, they were polite to the Carpenters and raved about me. They called it the surprise of the year. Ben Segal had to hid the reviews from Karen and Richard.

We went on to the Garden State Art Center in New Jersey, Pine Nob in Detroit, and the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS headlined;TEXT. As beautifully as Karen and Richard performed, I thought their music was a carbon copy of their recorded versions. Although each not was polished, to me it sounded sterile and unemotional. I was a big fan of their, but I had to admit that the audience was not moved. The most popular section of their set was the finale, when Karen and Richard and I appeared onstage for the duets and trios.

Unsurprisingly, I began to detect some resentment. When we arrived at the Riviera hotel in Las Vegas for a two-week engagement, we played to a packed house, including such celebrities as Glenn Campbell and Paul Anka. The audience cheered each of my songs, and by the end I had them on their feet. By the second night, Richard decided to take out the finale-he said the show was running too long. The third night, Dick Clark called me to say he was coming to the show, as did Tom Jones, and during the show I introduced them to the audience. When I left the stage I heard Richard Carpenter screaming, "Get that son of a XXXXX out!" Karen, about to go on, was in tears. "Neil, I'm so sorry about this," she said. She looked painfully thin, and weighed only about ninety pounds.

The next morning Elliott called. "Neil, Richard wants to call it quits. he would like you to leave the tour today."

I was shocked. "I can't believe it," I told him.

I called the group in and told them the news--we were to pack up that afternoon. My name was to be removed from the marquee of the Riviera hotel.

When Wayne Newton heard he calle to ask if he could do anything for me. "It's so unfair," he said. Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence promised to make an announcement durin gtheir show. "You're being fired because you're too good," Steve told me.

I called my friend Alan Carr, a famed producer and show business manager, and told him what had happened.

"Neil, you must call a press conference in Vegas. You must let the public know what really happened. make this work for you. Above all, before you leave, let Elliott rebook you in Vegas as a headliner at the Riviera Hotel."

I followed his advice. The next day, after the press conference, stories appeared in the U.P.I and A.P wires stating "Sedaka fired for being too strong." DJ's picked up on the incident as well, and the Carpenters looked bad. While my records continued to do well on the air. The Carpenters records were often followed by snide remarks from DJs. Before I left Las Vegas, Elliott had arranged for the new contract--I was to return to the Riviera in a few months as a headliner and I have been working there eight weeks a year ever since.

A few days later Karen Carpenter was hospitalized. In her worn down condition, this had been too much for her. She was in a state of depression. The Carpenters cancelled their Japanese tour.

I think if Richard had realized the repercussions, he might have kept me on the tour. Since then, on the few occasions I have met The Carpenters, we have always been cordial to each other.
 
Neil didn’t write the lyrics, Phil Cody did. You should research his musical career before making such a poor assessment. Neil “lost” his appeal as a fifties singer/songwriter ....
I think that loneliness as a washed up artist and songwriter is what he’s singing about in the song.

Sorry, I do admit that I made a mistake in assuming Neil wrote the song. But I already knew he lost his appeal and then, after a long time, came back as a performer. So, please don't assume I didn't do my homework at all.

When I said beforehand that I don't think Neil is the kind of guy that knows the profound sense of loneliness depicted in "Solitaire," I was not thinking of that kind of loneliness. The loneliness that Neil might have felt as a washed-up artist is what many people, whether artists or regular factory workers or middle-class housewives or anyone at all, would feel. So I thought it was too weak as compared with what is described in the song. That's what I thought.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
From Neil Sedaka's LAUGHTER IN THE RAIN book

CHAPTER 26...THE CARPENTERS...


After weeks of rest my health was back to normal. Karen and Richard Carepnter, clients of BNB, were abou to embark on a six-week tour, beginning on the East Coast in open-air theaters, continuing to Vegas, and finally to Japan. Elliot told me that Richard wanted me as their opening act. Elliott recommended it-The Carpenters played to my kind of audience. "Also," he said, "SEDAKA'S BACK is still not selling despite 'LAUGHTER[IN THE RAIN]'s number one postion and a tour might help." I agreed.

Richard created a very clever show, combining a number of familiar old hits with more current material. I was to come on at the beginning of the show and do thirty-five minutes, and return to the stage at the end to sing several encores with Karen and Richard.

We opened the tour at Ben Segal's Oakdale Music Theatre in the Round in Wallingford, Connecticut. At our first show I was a nonstop bundle of energy from start to finish and the audience was cheering all the way. Then Karen and Richard came on to do their portion of the program. Karen had an exquisite voice, and their songs and music were tasteful and musically superb. Richard's piano was the perfect complement to this beautiful, mellow, romantic music. However in contrast to my thirty-five minutes, their act was quiet and subdued. Everything sounded the same, whereas my songs were varied. You could sense the difference in the audience's response. They were appreciated but unexcited, and the Carpenters received only mild applause. While I was obviously thrilled to be onstage, The Carpenters seemed to walk through their act.

When the first reviews came out in the Connecticut papers, they were polite to the Carpenters and raved about me. They called it the surprise of the year. Ben Segal had to hid the reviews from Karen and Richard.

We went on to the Garden State Art Center in New Jersey, Pine Nob in Detroit, and the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS headlined;TEXT. As beautifully as Karen and Richard performed, I thought their music was a carbon copy of their recorded versions. Although each not was polished, to me it sounded sterile and unemotional. I was a big fan of their, but I had to admit that the audience was not moved. The most popular section of their set was the finale, when Karen and Richard and I appeared onstage for the duets and trios.

Unsurprisingly, I began to detect some resentment. When we arrived at the Riviera hotel in Las Vegas for a two-week engagement, we played to a packed house, including such celebrities as Glenn Campbell and Paul Anka. The audience cheered each of my songs, and by the end I had them on their feet. By the second night, Richard decided to take out the finale-he said the show was running too long. The third night, Dick Clark called me to say he was coming to the show, as did Tom Jones, and during the show I introduced them to the audience. When I left the stage I heard Richard Carpenter screaming, "Get that son of a XXXXX out!" Karen, about to go on, was in tears. "Neil, I'm so sorry about this," she said. She looked painfully thin, and weighed only about ninety pounds.

The next morning Elliott called. "Neil, Richard wants to call it quits. he would like you to leave the tour today."

I was shocked. "I can't believe it," I told him.

I called the group in and told them the news--we were to pack up that afternoon. My name was to be removed from the marquee of the Riviera hotel.

When Wayne Newton heard he calle to ask if he could do anything for me. "It's so unfair," he said. Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence promised to make an announcement durin gtheir show. "You're being fired because you're too good," Steve told me.

I called my friend Alan Carr, a famed producer and show business manager, and told him what had happened.

"Neil, you must call a press conference in Vegas. You must let the public know what really happened. make this work for you. Above all, before you leave, let Elliott rebook you in Vegas as a headliner at the Riviera Hotel."

I followed his advice. The next day, after the press conference, stories appeared in the U.P.I and A.P wires stating "Sedaka fired for being too strong." DJ's picked up on the incident as well, and the Carpenters looked bad. While my records continued to do well on the air. The Carpenters records were often followed by snide remarks from DJs. Before I left Las Vegas, Elliott had arranged for the new contract--I was to return to the Riviera in a few months as a headliner and I have been working there eight weeks a year ever since.

A few days later Karen Carpenter was hospitalized. In her worn down condition, this had been too much for her. She was in a state of depression. The Carpenters cancelled their Japanese tour.

I think if Richard had realized the repercussions, he might have kept me on the tour. Since then, on the few occasions I have met The Carpenters, we have always been cordial to each other.
Thank you!
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
I just saw that Josh Groban again is doing a deluxe edition of his newest album Harmony, 3 months after its release in November. It has 6 extra tracks. Cut 18 is Solitaire. Hmm
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
The Las Vegas incident with Neil Sedaka was unfortunate of course, but it's not completely fair to think down on Sedaka over it. Richard Carpenter said in various interviews that they were mainly "studio creatures" and that it was difficult to reproduce their sound onstage. On top of that, at the time of their ascendancy, "reproducing the studio sound" on stage was beginning to be looked down upon. People went to concerts hoping to hear the band stretch out a bit, maybe. A person attending a show that is exact reproductions of what's on record can feel let down. (This is why I never get excited about seeing Mannheim Steamroller concerts anymore.... you can't tell if you're listening to live performance, of just a recording played over a tremendous sound system.)

Then there is the showmanship angle. I have never seen Neil Sedaka, but some entertainers are just better at working the crowd than others. The fact that he continued to headline for years at the Riviera proves that he was a great showman. Not every entertainer is a great showman, and not every act is compelling to watch onstage. Carpenters music is meant to sit down and enjoy, not pump your fists in the air, so maybe it didn't lend itself well to live concerts. I never saw them live either, so I'm just speculating.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
At least in the 1976 (and forward) concerts I saw, Karen was able to work a crowd as an entertainer. Although you could tell he was less comfortable with doing so, Richard was engaging and entertaining. Especially during the Grease numbers.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Neil is a lot of fun, and very animated when he’s performing. He’s in his element playing his piano for an adoring audience. Carpenters were like a special occasion. Anniversary or Valentines Day. A real special treat. Refined and beautiful, yet something was missing in the mix. The studio! It couldn’t be duplicated on stage. I’m still eternally grateful for getting to see them as many times as I did though. Watching her play the drums and sing at the same time was pure magic.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
Neil is a lot of fun, and very animated when he’s performing. He’s in his element playing his piano for an adoring audience. Carpenters were like a special occasion. Anniversary or Valentines Day. A real special treat. Refined and beautiful, yet something was missing in the mix. The studio! It couldn’t be duplicated on stage. I’m still eternally grateful for getting to see them as many times as I did though. Watching her play the drums and sing at the same time was pure magic.
Yes, it was! I wouldn't trade that memory for anything.
 

Matthew Smith

Well-Known Member
The Las Vegas incident with Neil Sedaka was unfortunate of course, but it's not completely fair to think down on Sedaka over it. Richard Carpenter said in various interviews that they were mainly "studio creatures" and that it was difficult to reproduce their sound onstage. On top of that, at the time of their ascendancy, "reproducing the studio sound" on stage was beginning to be looked down upon. People went to concerts hoping to hear the band stretch out a bit, maybe. A person attending a show that is exact reproductions of what's on record can feel let down. (This is why I never get excited about seeing Mannheim Steamroller concerts anymore.... you can't tell if you're listening to live performance, of just a recording played over a tremendous sound system.)

Then there is the showmanship angle. I have never seen Neil Sedaka, but some entertainers are just better at working the crowd than others. The fact that he continued to headline for years at the Riviera proves that he was a great showman. Not every entertainer is a great showman, and not every act is compelling to watch onstage. Carpenters music is meant to sit down and enjoy, not pump your fists in the air, so maybe it didn't lend itself well to live concerts. I never saw them live either, so I'm just speculating.
The bottom line in all of this, is that their manager failed them, and deserved to be fired after this. “BNB” did this intentionally. One artist trying to boost his own popularity after a lower point in his career who rode into concert popularity again on the coat tails of Karen and Richard who were packing in the crowds at the time. Management should have realized that their stage shows were dramatically different and never should have paired them together in the first place for a tour. Richard should never have been put in the position to fire Neil in the first place. Unfair to Neil? It seems like his concert touring career got over it, and seems like he likely knew exactly what he was doing, which was seizing the opportunity to increase his own popularity with the help of Carpenters ticket buying crowd. While his appearance of innocence in all this is a little bit like “who caused trouble here, little old me?” he ultimately went out and made the most of it on behalf of his own career, and never should have been matched up with Carpenters for a tour in the first place. The fault lies on management here, in my opinion.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
The bottom line in all of this, is that their manager failed them, and deserved to be fired after this. “BNB” did this intentionally. One artist trying to boost his own popularity after a lower point in his career who rode into concert popularity again on the coat tails of Karen and Richard who were packing in the crowds at the time. Management should have realized that their stage shows were dramatically different and never should have paired them together in the first place for a tour. Richard should never have been put in the position to fire Neil in the first place. Unfair to Neil? It seems like his concert touring career got over it, and seems like he likely knew exactly what he was doing, which was seizing the opportunity to increase his own popularity with the help of Carpenters ticket buying crowd. While his appearance of innocence in all this is a little bit like “who caused trouble here, little old me?” he ultimately went out and made the most of it on behalf of his own career, and never should have been matched up with Carpenters for a tour in the first place. The fault lies on management here, in my opinion.

I don't know if that's entirely fair. It's worth bearing in mind that the account given in Ray Coleman's book, which paints Neil Sedaka as the deliberate troublemaker on the tour, is essentially Richard's take on the situation. I suspect it was a much less clear-cut situation in reality.

It's not unusual practice for acts sharing the same management to be on the same bill, whether it's a tour or a TV special (just look at all the Jerry Weintraub-managed acts who just happened to be guest stars on the Carpenters's TV specials). I'm sure there was a fair amount of crossover between those who bought Carpenters singles and those who bought 'Laughter in the Rain', so musically the two acts were fairly compatible in terms oftheir audience. As far as I'm aware, Neil hadn't toured the US for some time prior to his 1975 comeback, so his style of showmanship may well not have been that well known at the time.

Certainly, having Neil join the Carpenters' show was designed to boost his profile, but the effect was meant to be symbiotic, not parasitic at the Carpenters' expense - they could both benefit from this association. The problem arose partly because although both acts were coming off the back of recent #1 singles, Neil's career was hotting up, while the Carpenters' hot streak on the charts was starting to cool just a little - and they were entering a stage of burn-out due to endless touring and the physical toll this was taking on them.

As such, you had Neil, a true showman, enthusiastically giving it his all in performance matched with the Carpenters, who were tired - and it showed. You only have to listen to the live recording of their 1975 show posted on the 'Concert Schedules' thread to hear the listlessness in the Carpenters' performance at that time. It's all well performed, sure, but it's very low energy and many of the songs in the setlist they'd been performing for years on end at this stage - they're really going through the motions and there's not a lot to get for the audience to get excited about. And the concert reviews at the time picked up on this.

Should Neil have toned down his performance as a result? That would hardly be a reasonable request to make of any performer - it wasn't his fault that the situation was the way it was. Perhaps he did get carried away with the faux pas of introducing Dick Clark and Tom Jones, but I'm willing to bet Richard's anger with Neil was as much a result of his own fatigue, probably not wanting to be on tour and I daresay a certain embarrassment caused by the light Neil's performing skills was shining on the shortcomings in the Carpenters' stagecraft. No one needed to fire Neil - that was an over-reaction in the heat of the moment that Richard subsequently tried to justify as being unavoidable.

The Carpenters should have taken this as a sign that they needed to raise their game when performing live, although in fairness to them, neither of them was probably in the right place or frame of mind to do so in mid-1975. But let's not forget that the very next thing they did when they went back to touring was to start completely revamping their show - they realized they needed to do more on stage than they had been doing.
 
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