Neil Sedaka talks unemployment, his new book and playing with an orchestra

Neil Sedaka on "CBS This Morning."
Neil Sedaka on "CBS This Morning."

(CBS News) It wasn't always smooth sailing for Neil Sedaka.

Despite having sold more than 60 million records and written more than 500 songs, including hits like "Laughter in the Rain," "Breaking Up is Hard to Do," and "Calendar Girl," the singer and writer said Monday he was once out of work for 13 years.

In the time he was unemployed, he was still pushing forward and writing new songs. Sedaka said on "CBS This Morning" that Elton John eventually rediscovered him in the '70s when he was trying to start his record company.

Of the time between jobs, Sedaka said, "The creative mind is still working and it's a drive. You have you to prove yourself each time. You have to raise the level of Neil Sedaka. You have to top yourself."

These days, Sedaka, a classically trained pianist, is getting ready to take the stage for a performance in London with London Philharmonic Orchestra on October 17. He wrote his first piano concerto and symphony for the occasion. "I've gone full circle back to my roots," Sedaka said.

He's also entering the world of children's books with his family. His new children's book, "Dinosaur Pet," re-invents the title and lyrics of your classic song "Calendar Girl."

Video: Neil Sedaka sings for kids

"This is a family affair," Sedaka said. "My son...wrote the book. My granddaughters...sing the background vocals and we changed the words 'Calendar Girl' to -- I love I love I love my dinosaur pet kits can listen to the CD, look at the illustration and they look at the words and it's a wonderful way of learning. (My grandchildren) rock 'n' roll songs so I thought it would be fun to make them child-friendly."

For more with Sedaka, watch his full interview in the video player above.