Neil Sedaka’s Wake-Up Call To Graham Gouldman About 10cc’s Potential
Nobody starts a job thinking they won’t achieve the success they desire. Every musician begins their journey to let broad audiences hear about them and their music; they want to be admired for their works. They try to do whatever they can to reach their goal but fail to do so until someone or something ignites the fire of ambition necessary for success in them.
For Electric Light Orchestra, the spark came from the band’s co-founder, Jeff Lynne‘s father, who told him his music was not tuned enough. That remark made the musician realize that he did not reach his full potential up until that point and prompted him to write ‘Can’t Get It Out Of My Head,’ a rock song with classical tunes that brought his band success.
For 10cc, on the other hand, the fire started when Neil Sedaka‘s ‘Solitaire’ became successful in 1972. The album was recorded in Strawberry Studios, which was owned by the band members, with their contributions. Its achievement made the band realize what caused their failure and tumult in the industry.
Until they got motivated by their interaction with Sedaka, 10cc tried multiple times to get their songs accepted and loved; however, most of their songs did not receive much public or producer recognition. To earn money, they turned to working for other musicians or singing under different names.
They met bubblegum pop producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz and recorded songs for the bands they created, like Crazy Elephant or Freddie and the Dreamers. According to Kevin Godly‘s 1975 statement to Zigzag Magazine, they produced countless pieces and made everything required themselves; however, even when the songs achieved success, their names remained unknown by many.
Godly’s words indicating the effort they put into the songs were as follows:
“We did a lot of tracks in a very short time – it was really like a machine. Twenty tracks in about two weeks – a lot of crap, really – really shit. We used to do the voices, everything – it saved ’em money. We even did the female backing vocals.”
Following this project which they accepted for money, the band co-produced and played for a few songs and albums for various musicians, including Neil Sedaka. His comeback album, ‘Solitaire,’ carried the contributions of 10cc, and seeing it become successful helped the band realize their worth as musicians, as Graham Gouldman mentioned in an interview with Record Collector in 1984.
The musician recalled the memory and said:
“It was Neil Sedaka’s success that did it, I think. We’d just been accepting any job we were offered and were getting really frustrated. We knew that we were worth more than that, but it needed something to prod us into facing that. We were a bit choked to think that we’d done the whole of Neil’s first album with him just for flat session fees when we could have been recording our own material.”
Therefore, they worked hard, wrote a song called ‘Waterfall,’ and presented it to Apple Records in 1972, only to be rejected by the company because their song did not have a ‘hit’ potential. Fortunately, they did not give up. Godly and Lol Creme wrote ‘Donna,’ which was initially planned to be B-side to ‘Waterfall,’ and made a deal with Jonathan King to achieve the commercial success they wanted.
According to the 1984 Record Collector interview with Eric Stewart, they knew the song had great potential and wanted to unveil it. To do that, they found King to work with as they believed him to be the only person who would accept to release the song.
On the matter, Stewart said:
“We knew it had something. We only knew of one person who was mad enough to release it, and that was Jonathan King.”
Jonathan immediately liked the song and claimed that it would become a hit, and he was proved to be right as the song reached number 2 in the UK in 1972. That achievement paved the way for 10cc, and they received international recognition with ‘Rubber Bullets’ a year later.
10cc finally reached their goal of catching fame and success with their music thanks to the ambition that awoke inside them. Neil Sedaka’s effect motivated them to pursue their dreams and became the turning point of their story. It also created a good lesson to learn: Know your worth and never give up!