Neil Diamond

  • Pop singer, songwriter and guitarist born in 1941 from Brooklyn New York.
  • At 16 years old, Diamond spent several weeks at a summer camp in upstate New York, and folk singer Pete Seeger gave a small performance. Several kids at the camp sang songs that they had written, and Diamond was intrigued by the idea of writing music. He returned home from camp, picked up the guitar that he got for his birthday that year, and started writing and taking music lessons. He went to college and wrote lyrics when he was bored in class. He went into NYC to try to get his songs heard by the publishing companies. In his senior year, just short of graduation, he was offered a 16 week job at Sunbeam Music Publishing for $50 a week, and he dropped out of college.
  • He was not retained by Sunbeam, so he started making demo tapes of his songs. In 1962, he and friend Jack Packer were signed to a independent label. Billed as Neil and Jack, they recorded 2 singles, which were critically acclaimed but did not chart. Later that year, Diamond was signed as a solo artist, and in July 1963, the single At Night was released. It failed, and he was dropped by his record company.
  • Over the next couple of years, he barely survived by selling songs. By 1965, he was writing songs that became hits for other artists, most notably I’m a Believer by the Monkees, which was #1 for 6 weeks, and was the most popular song of 1966. That year, he signed with a record company, and started making his own hits. His debut album, The Feel of Neil Diamond, contains 2 classic Diamond songs, Solitary Man and Cherry, Cherry – they reached #55 and #6 on the Hot 100 chart respectively. His next album, 1967’s Just For You, included top 20 hits You Got To Me, Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon and Thank the Lord for the Night Time. 
  • After a couple of years of fighting with his record company, he switched labels, and in 1969, 2 more Diamond signature songs were released – Sweet Caroline reached #4 on the Hot 100 chart, and Holly Holy peaked at #6.
  • Sweet Caroline, inspired by John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline, continues to famous today. He actually wrote it with his wife Marcia in mind, but he needed a 3 syllable name to fit the melody. It is a regular at sporting events – the Boston Red Sox have used the song in the middle of the 8th inning at every home game since 2002. In 2019, it was selected by the Library of Congress to be included in the National Recording Registry.
  • In 1970, his album Tap Root Manuscript was released, his first of 24 albums to be certified platinum (including 5 compilation albums, and 5 live albums). Tap Root Manuscript included his first #1 single, Cracklin’ Rosie. 
  • During the 70s, Diamond had 28 singles chart in the Hot 100. Top 10 hits were Cracklin’ Rosie (#1), I Am…I Said, Song Sung Blue (#1), Longfellow Serenade, and You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (duet with Barbra Streisand, #1). 23 songs also charted on the Adult Contemporary chart, including #1’s Song Sung Blue, Longfellow Serenade, I’ve Been This Way Before, If You Know What I Mean and Desiree. 
  • Six albums released in the 80s were nearly as successful as his run in the 70s. His best selling studio album, The Jazz Singer (it serves as the soundtrack to the movie that he starred in) was released in 1980. Three more top 10 hits came from this album, including another signature song, America, which also reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The patriotic song celebrates the history of immigration to the U.S., and it was used prominently at major American events such as the end of the Iran hostage crisis, the 100th anniversary celebration of the Statue of Liberty and as an anthem after the attacks of September 11. His final big hit was Heartlight in 1982, which reached #5 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
  • Since 1990, Diamond released 14 studio albums, including 5 Christmas albums, and his most recent album of original songs was Melody Road, released in 2014. Beloved for his live concerts, he retired from touring in 2018 due to his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, cutting short his 50th anniversary tour.
  • Diamond released 34 studio albums, 9 live albums, and over 40 compilation albums – it all adds up to over 100 million records sold worldwide. A Neil Diamond Bio Musical is Broadway-bound, announced in July 2019.  In 2018, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He was nominated for a Grammy 13 times, but only won once – for Best Original Score for a Motion Picture or Television Special, for Jonathan Livingston Seagull (even though Diamond sued the producer of the movie for “butchering” the score). He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 and also was a Kennedy Center honoree that year. Easy to say that Neil Diamond is one of the most beloved artists of all time! Go ahead…sing along with Sweet Caroline (“so good, so good, so good”)!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *