(1941 - )
Neil Leslie Diamond was
born January 24, 1941 to Rose and Akeeba
Diamond in Brooklyn, New
York. Four years later, the Diamond
family, which now included Neil's younger
brother Harvey, moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming,
where Kieve was stationed with the United
States Army. In 1956, while Neil was in
highschool, they moved to Brooklyns
Brighton Beach. On his sixteenth birthday,
Neil recieved a guitar, a gift would change
his life forever. From that point on, Neil
focused on music lessons and later, songwriting.
As a teenager, Neil wrote
his first song for his girlfriend. It was
called "Hear Them Bells," and
although he never thought about recording
it at the time, he did record it many years
later. At age 18, Neil composed a tune called "Blue
Destiny" and he
was sure it was going to be a hit record,
but it would take 8 more years before that
In 1962, Neil signed with Columbia Records, and recorded a song called
"At Night" which was a complete flop. He later attended NYU
as a pre-med student on a fencing scholarship, but songwriting remained
his first love. He left college six months before graduating to accept
a songwriter's position with a publishing company for $50 a week, and
has never regretted the decision. Diamond eventually leased an office
on Broadway for $35 a month where he could devote all his time to writing.
His only taste of success came when Jay and the Americans recorded his
tune, "Sunday and Me". After several lean years, he was approached
by producers Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, a meeting which led to
his eventual signing with Bang Records.
At his first session in 1966, Neil recorded what would become his first
hit single, "Cherry, Cherry." It rose to number 6 on the Billboard
charts and it was soon followed by two more chart makers, "Girl,
You'll Be a Woman Soon" and "Solitary Man".
Diamond's reputation as a song writer was enhanced when The Monkees
recorded his tune, "I'm a Believer", which topped Billboard's
charts for weeks. His own recordings struggled. His 1967 release of
a country sounding tune, "Red, Red Wine", was a disappointment
and wouldn't be successful until 1988, when a band called 'UB40' recorded
it in a reggae style.
Bang records was growing restless over Neil's failure to place more
songs on the hit parade, and when they balked at releasing a single
called "Shilo", Diamond decided to move on. He signed with
UNI records in 1968, and promptly placed "Shilo" firmly in
the top 40.
From here, Diamond started a long string of hit records that saw him
hit the charts with "Sweet Caroline", a song that went to
#4 across the nation. "Holly Holy" soon followed, reaching
#6 and "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show", which became
a highlight of Neil's live shows.
Diamond's first number one record as a performer came in 1972 with
"Cracklin' Rosie", a song that was inspired by trip to an
Indian reservation and not wine, as many of his fans first thought.
He followed this with another #1, "Song Sung Blue" as well
as "I Am...I Said". It was during this period that Neil recorded
what would be a classic album for its time, "Hot August Night"
which was recorded live at The Greek Theatre.
Diamond's reputation as a charismatic performer grew
steadily in the 70s. In 1972, the Schubert Organization presented him
in concert for a record-setting 20 performances of a one-man show at
the Winter Garden Theater, making Neil the first rock-era superstar
to headline on Broadway. At the height of his touring popularity, Diamond
announced a sabbatical from the stage to devote more time to his family,
but he soon resumed performing with record breaking tours of Australia and New Zealand.
In 1973, Neil signed with Columbia Records, with which he has enjoyed
his greatest successes. His first release for the label, "Jonathan
Livingston Seagull", became his #2 all-time best-seller and earned
him Grammy and Golden Globe awards. In 1974 he released "Serenade",
which yielded the hit, "Longfellow Serenade." In 1976 he recorded
the platinum selling album, "Beautiful Noise", with producer
and former member of "The Band", Robbie Robertson.
The late 70s found Diamond on both the radio and TV airwaves. In 1976,
he returned to the Greek Theater for eight sold out shows, resulting
in his first TV special and his second live LP, 1977's platinum "Love
At The Greek".
In early 1978, Neil was asked to write the theme song
for a TV sit-com. When the show was rejected by the networks, he decided
to keep the song for an upcoming album. Months later, a disc jockey
brought a home made recording to Neil's attention. A radio station engineer
had spliced together Neil's version of his album cut, "You Don't
Bring Me Flowers" with a Barbra
Streisand rendition of the same song. It was getting such good response,
that the station had added it to their playlist. Neil decided to re-record
the song with Streisand herself, and within weeks of its release, the
single went to number one in the U.S.
Neil followed with "I'm Glad You're Here With Me Tonight",
and "September Morn", to continue his streak of RIAA-certified
In 1980, Diamond not only starred in the remake of the movie classic
"The Jazz Singer," but he composed and performed the film's
multi-platinum soundtrack album, which included the hits "Love
On The Rocks'", "America," and "Hello Again."
The title track to his 1982 album "Heartlight" was another
monster hit, and in 1986 he followed his smash 1972 live double album,
"Hot August Night" with "Hot August Night II".
The 90's served to further Diamond's standing as one of his generation's
premier performers. A Christmas album spawned "Neil Diamond's Christmas
Special," which premiered on HBO in 1992 and aired on ABC-TV the
following year. According to Amusement Business, he was the top concert
draw in the U.S. for the first six months of 1992. A second holiday
set, "The Christmas Album Vol II", was issued in 1994 and
duplicated the success of the first volume.
In 1993, meanwhile, Diamond returned to his roots with the album "Up
On The Roof -- Songs From The Brill Building". Featuring 16 of
Diamond's favourite pop songs from the '50s and '60s, the disc showcased
classics by such top songwriting teams as Goffin & King, Mann &
Weill, Leiber & Stoller, and Bacharach & David -- all of whom
were closely identified with the Brill Building, the renowned songwriters
and publishers headquarters located on Broadway in Midtown Manhattan.
In 1994, he released "Live In America", which documented
his record-breaking two-year "Love In The Round" world tour,
in which he performed on a 360-degree stage built in the middle of every
arena he played. "The Tennessee Moon" project followed in
1996, and included a companion TV special and home video. The Tennessee
Moon album became a hit on the country charts, peaking at number three
and going gold within six months of its release
Also in 1996 came the extraordinary 70-song "In My Lifetime"
boxed-set containing 37 hit singles, 16 previously un-issued early demos,
alternative versions of well known classics, the newly written and recorded
title track, and a full-color 72-page booklet with extensive liner notes
including an interview with Diamond, scores of rare photos, a complete
discography, and song-by-song annotations by Diamond. It was a fitting
package for the enduring artist who had already sold 110 million records
and set box office records at major venues all over the world.
As the new millennium rolled around, Neil Diamond, the interpretive
vocalist, returned to the movies as the inspiration for "The Movie
Album -- As Time Goes By", a two-disc collection of 20 classic
songs from the treasure trove of motion picture music. True to the spirit
and magic of Hollywood at its best, "The Movie Album -- As Time
Goes By" was recorded live on 20th Century Fox's Newman Scoring
Stage and conducted by the legendary film composer/conductor Elmer Bernstein.
But the eminent singer-songwriter is quick to note that his own songwriting
days are far from over. "I'm writing new material all the time,"
says Diamond, "but I look forward to just going out and singing
the songs from "The Movie Album -- As Time Goes By", without
worrying how the audience will respond to new material, because all
these songs are wonderful going in.
In 2001, Neil wrote the
soundtrack to “Saving Silverman,” a
movie about a Neil Diamond tribute band and
also released a new album called “Three