Go Away With … Neil Sedaka

By Jae-Ha Kim
May 25, 2010

Music legend Neil Sedaka is back on the road performing concerts to promote his latest album, “Music of My Life.” Based out of New York and Los Angeles, the 71-year-old singer-songwriter loves to travel, whether it’s a family vacation to Hawaii or a staycation in his beloved Big Apple. Next on his list of places he’d like to visit? “It seems I’ve been everywhere, but I’ve never been to Eastern Europe,” Sedaka says. “(I’d like to travel to) Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania one day.”

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Hawaii. Every December I take my grandkids there for their holiday break from school. We spend wonderful times at the beach. If I am scheduled to perform, the kids get up on stage and perform the months of the year on “Calendar Girl.” They get a real kick out of it.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. I really prefer to stay in New York when I have a weekend off from being on the road. I enjoy going to the movies and the theater. My wife, Leba, and I love New York for its culture and the hustle and bustle. I love Central Park. Often you can find me with my parrot, Echo, who walks with me on his leash. I also spend my down time in Los Angeles. The weather is terrific and my grandchildren are there! It’s a very relaxed place. But after a few weeks I need to get back to New York. You can take Neil out of New York, but you can’t take New York out of Neil.

Q. What are your favorite hotels and restaurants?

A. For hotels, I like the Kahala Hotel & Resort (www.kahalaresort.com) in Honolulu, the Dorchester Hotel (www.thedorchester.com) in London, the Breakers Palm Beach (www.thebreakers.com) and the Peninsula Hotel (www.peninsula.com) in Hong Kong. For restaurants, I really like the Monkey Bar, Le Cirque (www.lecirque.com) and Wajima in New York. Others include La Caprice (www.le-caprice.co.uk) in London, Mr. Chow (www.mrchow.com) in New York, Los Angeles and London, Cecconi’s (www.cecconiswesthollywood.com) in Los Angeles and Wa Sushi & Bistro in West Hollywood — a tiny Japanese restaurant where my favorite dish is Chilean sea bass with foie gras on top. Never tasted anything better.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. My iPod, a pad and pen, if I find myself inspired to write, or else I use napkins or scraps of paper. My Papa Neil cap. Being a singer, I always worry about my throat. No matter what the weather might be, I always take a heavy sweater for the plane. I never know what the weather will be like. I always take a bathing suit, even if I am going to a winter climate. There might be an indoor pool at the hotel.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. Not including New York, London, Honolulu, Venice, St. Petersburg and Rio de Janeiro. I love the spirit of Rio, the music, the people, the bodies, the Copacabana Beach, the Carnival in Rio. I was one of the first American pop stars to go to Rio in the ’50s, and it has always remained one of my fondest memories.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. Hotels, restaurants, concerts and weather. For example, I have scheduled a trip to London in the fall so I can attend a performance by the great Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin.

© 2010 JAE-HA KIM

(Photo credit: Harry Langdon)


Comments (1)

  1. Ron says:


    Thanks for the excellent piece on Neil Sedaka. It was well written and just the right length, full of information.

    We’re looking forward to seeing him in concert December 18 at the Hawaii Theatre. We’ll let you know how it goes.

    My father knew the Sedaka family back in New York and was alreadys ready to challenge them to a friendly game of handball down by the beach.

    In any event, keep up the good work!


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