Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen

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"Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen"
Single by Neil Sedaka
from the album Neil Sedaka Sings His Greatest Hits
B-side Don't Lead Me On
Released 1961
Format 45 rpm single
Recorded 1961
Genre Pop
Label RCA Victor
Writer(s) Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield
Neil Sedaka singles chronology
"Sweet Little You
"Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen"
"King of Clowns"

"Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" is a pop song released in 1961 by Neil Sedaka. Sedaka wrote the music and performed the song, while the lyrics were written by Howard Greenfield. The song is noted for being similar in musical structure to Take Good Care of My Baby by Bobby Vee (another 1961 hit), and additionally for its resemblance to the melody of the Chiffons' subsequent 1963 hit "One Fine Day". Both of these songs exhibiting similarity to "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" were penned by the team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. The song reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart[1] and no 3 on the UK Singles Chart.

The narrator sings the song to a childhood friend of his upon her sixteenth birthday, reminiscing about the ups and downs of their friendship thus far and declaring that now that she has grown from an awkward tomboy into a beautiful young lady, he wants her for his girlfriend.

This was one of several Sedaka recordings that employed the services of drummer Gary Chester.[2]

other musicians on the record include Al Casamenti, Art Reyerson and Charles Macey on guitar, Ernie Hayes on piano, George Duviver on bass, Artie Kaplan on sax, Seymour Barab and Morris Stonzek on cellos, David Guillet, Joseph Haber, Louie Haber, Harold Kohon, David Sackson, Maurice Stine, Louis Stone, and Arnold Goldberg on violins, and Phil Kraus and George Devens on percussion.

Other versions[edit]

A Bobby Vee version was released on the album "30 Big Hits from the 60's" in 1964.

The Swedish dansband Flamingokvintetten in 1968 recorded a cover of the song that reached #1 in the Swedish charts Tio i topp and Kvällstoppen. They also recorded a Swedish version of the song, named "Hon är sexton år i dag" reaching Svensktoppen the same year.[3]

A version called "Happy Birthday, Twenty-One" with a special lyric by Ian Whitcomb and sung by Mae West was released on her Great Balls of Fire album in 1972 on MGM Records.

In 2009, Damian McGinty of Celtic Thunder included the song on their album Take Me Home.

In the Roseanne episode "Pretty In Black" (Season Five), Roseanne, Dan and several of their friends sing the first chorus of this song to a mortified Darlene at her "sweet sixteen" party. A version of the song by an uncredited performer is also played over the closing credits of the episode.