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Neil Diamond - Profile

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 9 / 2 / 2018

Neil Diamond - Profile


Nick Dent Robinson examines singer-songwriter Neil Diamond's recent decision to stop touring after being diagnosed with Parkinson's and reflects on his often under-rated career.

At 77, Neil Diamond has finally taken the decision to bring his hugely successful touring career to an end. With the onset of Parkinson's disease, Diamond – who used to smile when people referred to him as the Jewish Elvis – has reluctantly cancelled the remaining concerts in a world tour that was celebrating his 50 years in the music business. However, he insists he will continue writing, recording and working behind the scenes with other music stars - just as he always has. Neil Diamond has always been loyal to his huge fan base. He once told me, “It was early in my career that I took the conscious decision to please my audience, rather than critics or fellow musicians. I am proud of my middle-of-the-road image and never being part of the live fast, die young rock culture. It is far more democratic to try to please the audience and, business-wise, of course, it makes much more sense, too.” This philosophy has paid off handsomely for Diamond. He sold over 130 million records and has enjoyed huge hits with songs like 'Sweet Caroline', 'Cracklin' Rosie', 'Love on the Rocks,' 'Forever in Blue Jeans' and so many more. He has released 32 studio albums, and as recently as 2014, his latest 'Melody Road' album reached the Top Five in both the USA and the UK. In addition to all this, he penned many songs for others - like The Monkees' 'I'm A Believer,' which reputedly earned him over $1 million! His songs have been recorded by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, UB40, Lulu, Deep Purple, and actress Uma Thurman sensationally danced to 'Girl, You'll Be A Woman' in Quentin Tarantino's cult film, Pulp Fiction. In 2008, Diamond headlined at Glastonbury and laughed at the time, “I guess I am so unhip that I'm suddenly hip...what about that?” He also joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 and recently collected a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award. And every one of the 55 shows on his latest tour were sold out weeks in advance! Despite all this success, many music critics never ceased despising Diamond. Whilst a range of top musicians I have met - from Keith Richards to Eric Clapton and the members of Deep Purple - have the greatest respect for Neil Diamond, especially for his skill at penning songs that strike a chord with millions and are massively commercial, there are others in the music world who have never accepted him for the talent he clearly is. Some of the reason for this might be Diamond's quiet determination always to go his own way, do his own thing – however unfashionable that might appear. “I am a natural loner,” he once told me. “I have few friends and it has just been impossible sometimes to maintain relationships with my music commitments which come first, always. I am a romantic - incurably so - but I am not easy to live with. I accept responsibility for the failure of past marriages and struggle to find the perfect balance between professional and domestic responsibilities.” Diamond was not always an easy interviewee. He could appear quite self-obsessed, talking at length about what a worrier he was and being desperately serious and introspective. He described his songwriting as a desperately painful process, ever searching for “an elusive chord in me that nothing else can touch”. But nobody can take away his massive achievements in music and his ability to reach out to millions of people and connect with them. His stage performances were always hugely powerful and Neil Diamond will be a big loss on the touring circuit.

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