Neil Sedaka, during an interview shortly after his arrival at the Rhein-Main airport in July, 1966.

Neil Sedaka, during an interview shortly after his arrival at the Rhein-Main airport in July, 1966. (Lloyd Borguss / ©Stars and Stripes)

FRANKFURT — "I like the Beatles. They're fresh and original. But I'm very tired of English rock `n' roll-and it's slipping in the States."

Talking was 15-million-record seller Neil Sedaka, visibly tired after a seven-hour flight from New York ("can't sleep on planes") but willing to chat about music and his career.

He will perform on the GI club circuit in Germany for 10 days, then do a TV show in England and cut records in Italy and France.

"There was a time when nine out of 10 records were English rock `n' roll," lie elaborated Wednesday. "It's starting to subside now in the States and we have some fine groups of our own coming up.

"I'd like to see Italian rock `n' roll come in. It has an almost classical undercurrent."

Sedaka knows a bit about classical music. He was a true longhair before the mop-top types ever sang a note.

The wavy-haired singer found he had to play popular music for his pals, and it got him started on a switch from Bach to pop. With a grandmother who was a concert pianist, he began lessons at 8½, started writing his own songs at 13 and began his professional singing career at 18.

"I was knocking around the publishing firms, trying to sell my songs, and being turned down everywhere, I got to thinking I could interpret my own songs better if I sang 'em.

"It's funny," he smiled. "I was a success first in other countries, then in the United States. Latin America was first. I'm a top singer there, and the Far East, and Italy. In Japan, they thought I was Japanese until I got there. It may have been my name, which is of Turkish descent."

His biggest hit, "Oh, Carol," sold 2.5 million copies internationally, while his best Stateside disc was the 1.5 million sale of "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do."

Sedaka, 25, rubbed his red-rimmed eyes in the Pan American lounge and mentioned writing hit songs for Connie Francis (including the score of the picture "Where the Boys Are"), Ray Charles, Dinah Washington and others.

"I think rock `n' roll is becoming more melodic," he added. "There's a trend to sophisticated rock `n' roll, with fiddles as opposed to the guitars of years ago."

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