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Profile: Neil Diamond


Profile: Neil Diamond


Neil Leslie Diamond, January 24, 1941, New York, NY (Brooklyn)


Pop, Pop-rock, Rock and Roll, Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary


Vocals, Guitar

Contributions to music:

  • One of the famed Brill Building's most famous and successful songwriters
  • Famous for his glittery, dynamic, outsize stage performances
  • Helped bring the singer-songwriter movement through two decades of evolution
  • Combined the spirit of the folk troubadour with pop smarts, rock introspection, and a Broadway-like sense of drama
  • One of America's most iconic songwriting legends

Early years:

The son of a dry-goods merchant in Brooklyn, Neil moved around the city a lot as his father relocated near the different stores he owned in the area. Neil made few friendly relationships as a result, and like many such teens, he turned to music. A lifelong folk lover, Diamond was first introduced to the music when Pete Seeger played Neil's summer camp. In 1958, the neophyte musician enrolled at NYU (major: pre-med), but he was already looking for a way to make it as a professional songwriter.


Diamond scored minor hits with songs he'd written for Pat Boone, the Rocky Fellers, and Cliff Richard, but when he met Brill Building songwriters Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich his career started to take off. Neil's demos earned him a reputation as a singer AND a songwriter, and eventually resulted in a contract with Bang Records. In January 1966, "Solitary Man" was released, and while it wasn't a huge hit at first, it paved the way for his next single, an instant smash called "Cherry, Cherry."

Later years:

Several similar singles followed, and as the Sixties blossomed, the singer found it easier to get more introspective (and, it must be said, less rocking). His dynamic stage show garnered him quite a reputation, one solidified by 1972's "Hot August Night," one of rock's great live recordings. As the Seventies wore on, Neil settled into a soft-rock mode, but his stadium shows continued to sell out well into the late Eighties. Diamond still records periodically today, but is mainly a concert draw.

Other facts:

  • Was admitted to NYU on a fencing scholarship
  • Considered changing his name to Eice Cherry or Noah Kaminsky early in his career
  • The success of "Cherry, Cherry" led to the Monkees recording Neil's "I'm A Believer"
  • "Cracklin' Rosie" is actually about a bottle of cheap wine
  • Diamond's duet with Barbra Steisand, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," only came to be recorded after a DJ got some notice by splicing their two solo versions together
  • The 2001 movie "Saving Silverman" is about a Neil Diamond cover band


  • GRAMMY Award (1973: Best Instrumental Composition Written Specifically For A Motion Picture or for Television, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull") Songwriters Hall of Fame (1984)

Songs, Albums, and Charts:

#1 hits:
  • "Cracklin' Rosie" (1970)
  • "Song Sung Blue" (1972)
  • "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" with Barbra Streisand(1978)
Top 10 hits:
  • "Cherry, Cherry" (1966)
  • "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon" (1967)
  • "Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)" (1969)
  • "Holly Holy" (1969)
  • "I Am...I Said" (1971)
  • "Longfellow Serenade" (1974)
  • "Love On The Rocks" (1981)
  • "Hello Again" (1981)
  • "America" (1981)
  • "Heartlight" (1982)
Top 10 Albums:
  • Gold (1970)
  • Moods (1972)
  • Hot August Night (1973)
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973)
  • Serenade (1974)
  • Beautiful Noise (1976)
  • Live At The Greek (1977)
  • I'm Glad You're Here With Me Tonight (1978)
  • You Don't Bring Me Flowers (1978)
  • three more
Other important recordings: "Solitary Man," "I Got The Feelin' (Oh No No)" "I Thank The Lord For The Night Time," "Kentucky Woman," "Red Red Wine," "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show," "Do It," "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," "Shilo," "Soolaimon (African Trilogy II)," "Stones," "Captain Sunshine," "Crunchy Granola Suite," "Gitchy Goomy," "Done Too Soon," "Play Me," "Walk On Water," "Be," "I've Been This Way Before", "The Last Picasso," "Don't Think...Feel," "Dry Your Eyes," "Beautiful Noise," "If You Know What I Mean," "Desiree," "Forever In Blue Jeans," "Say Maybe," "September Morn," "Yesterday's Songs," "Be Mine Tonight," "On The Way To The Sky"
Wrote or co-wrote: "I'm A Believer," "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)," "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," The Monkees; Kentucky Woman," Deep Purple; "Sunday And Me," Jay and the Americans; "The Boat That I Row," Lulu; "Red Red Wine," UB40; "And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind," Elvis Presley; "Sunflower," Glen Campbell
Covered by: Johnny Cash, Chris Isaak, U2, Urge Overkill, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Altered Images, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Womack, Frank Sinatra, Scott Walker, Smash Mouth
Appears in the movies: "Hot August Night" (1972), "The Last Waltz" (1978), "The Jazz Singer" (1980), "Saving Silverman" (2001)
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