FROM THE DESK OF DAVE RADSTOCK
Neil Diamond Tribute Artistes
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" - Oscar Wilde
Tribute artists are possibly the most sought after entertainers in the music industry after the actual artistes themselves, they generate millions in revenue as fans want to see their idols recreated, and relive their music long after the original artist may have passed away, or is no longer performing, there is something quite magical in seeing such an act perform as a major artist or band. Some are exceptionally good, but many are poor, but they all share one thing in common, a great love and passion for their particular idol.
In the case of Neil Diamond, I believe he sits second as the most imitated star behind Elvis Presley, there seems to have been an explosion of singers taking on
Neil Diamond, the reasons for this are plenty, firstly it is the man himself. A larger than life superstar, Diamond epitomises everything we think of when we imagine such an icon, then it is the songs, there isn’t another artist with as broad a catalogue of material that comes close to Diamond. The songs are universally known, which includes real pop standards which have stood the test of time, thirdly, who wouldn’t want to dress in those fabulous sequinned shirts, the clothing immediately draws gasps of excitement when the performer steps onto the stage, but it isn’t enough to attire oneself in a glitzy outfit and believe you suddenly become this iconic legend, it all comes down to vocal ability, and performance. The artistes featured in this article posses many facets of Neil Diamond, where audiences believe they are watching the real thing.
This article is going to look at some of the better tribute acts to Neil Diamond, whilst they may not all be on point vocally, they provide all the glitz and energy of
Neil Diamond which has made him so revered.
Peter is based in Australia, and his show is centred around Neil Diamond’s iconic live album 'Hot August Night', complete with a 30-piece symphony orchestra, the Sydney international orchestra, and the Australian Pops Orchestra, the show is an energetic and exciting trip down memory lane as Peter replicates those legendary 'Hot August Nights' of 1972. Since first performing his show as a 25th anniversary tribute to the album, he received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd at the Sydney Convention Centre, and now performs the show every August, where he has taken it around the world, visiting Africa, Europe and the UK. Peter is a consummate performer, where he has won many awards for best production show. One thing is sure, Peter Byrne is no rough Diamond.
Rob Leigh started singing in the late sixties with one of the many bands that sprung up in that decade. He played through the seventies as a member of various bands until the early eighties, where he decided to follow a solo career as a guitar vocalist.
Having been compared to Neil Diamond vocally for many years by audiences, particularly in America where Neil Diamond was king, Rob decided to take some professional advice. Following that, the tribute show was born, and Rob Leigh became Neil Diamond.
Rob hails from Lancashire, England. I have seen his show, and it is a fine presentation, I have met Rob, and he is a lovely unassuming fellow, quietly spoken, with a good nature. The passion, and love he has for Neil Diamond and his music shines through in his performance, where he engages audiences wherever he appears.
Brooklyn Creed hails from London, and is one of the new breed of singers performing as Neil Diamond. However, he couldn’t be regarded as a Bona Fide tribute, where he has been signed to portray Diamond in a touring theatre production based on Neil’s career in music, entitled 'Hello Again'.
Like many musicians, Brooklyn started playing guitar at an early age, where he formed his first band 'Ransom' at school with two like minded friends. The band became successful locally, performing at clubs and bars in and around the London area. At the tender age of just 18 years, Brooklyn became a full time professional musician.
It was in 2016, after a nationwide search for a lead to portray Neil Diamond in the production, that the producers came across Brooklyn, who lived in the next town, they had found their man.
Whilst Brooklyn doesn’t immediately fit what one would regard as someone to portray such an iconic superstar, his smooth vocals, and engaging manner appear to be the recipe for success for the show which is receiving rave reviews.
Theron Denson is unique amongst all the other featured tribute artistes in that he is the only black tribute act to Neil Diamond in the world, hence why he is known as “The Black Diamond” not only has Theron got quite an impressive showbiz reputation, but his enthusiastic style has garnered him fans all around the world.
Since he began performing as Neil Diamond he has experienced many career highlights, among them, an appearance on ABC Television’s 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' show and a performance for a US presidential candidate. He was also seen on NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Theron performs for many charitable causes, and for friends to brighten their day. One thing is for sure, he has managed to carve his own niche in the tribute industry, and continues to perform to thrilled audiences.
Looking at this picture you could be forgiven for doing a double take, or believing it is an image of Neil Diamond. This is Jay White, regarded as the world’s premier tribute act to Neil Diamond, and it’s easy to see why, from the striking stage attire, which replicates Neil’s costumes, to his performing style, Jay has been packing them in for years with his uncanny likeness to Neil, so much so that Neil’s legendary percussionist “King” Errisson, who has played alongside Jay, stated he believed he was actually on stage with Neil. He is that good, a massive compliment, and given that Neil has retired from concert touring, Jay is the next best thing, and the closest to attending an actual Neil Diamond concert.
Gary hails from Bolton, Lancashire, United kingdom. He first came to prominence when he entered TV talent show, “Stars In Their Eyes” a show based around everyday people performing as their favourite artist. Gary Appeared in the first series, and astounded viewers with his amazing and uncanny performance as Neil Diamond. He won his heat and quickly went into the final, where he came an impressive second to series winner Maxine Barry, as Shirley Bassey. Since that heady time, Gary has performed as part of the hugely successful Legends show at Blackpool’s North Pier, and taken his show around the world, making TV appearances and performing on cruise ship tours. Gary is also an accomplished songwriter and musician, where he has released an album of Diamond covers and his own material. At this moment in time Gary is performing his all new show... 'Sweet Caroline - The Ultimate Tribute'.
TOM SADGE... (pronounced Sage, as in the herb)
Tom Sadge was in a garage band with his high school buddies when they first played Neil Diamond’s 'Solitary Man', the year was 1968, and Neil Diamond’s 'I’m A Believer' recorded by 'The Monkees' had ruled the pop charts the previous year, Diamond was fast becoming a force in the music industry.
Sadge’s rock ‘n’ roll hair, and East coast vocals caused show-goers to draw obvious comparisons between the two, but even then, Sadge couldn’t have predicted he would earn a living impersonating the Brooklyn born superstar. Fifty years later, Sadge is still thrilling audiences with his fabulous show, bringing his sequinned shirts and gravelly voice to venues around America. Tom Sadge is regarded as a thoroughly polished entertainer, where his talents stretch to performing as other music legends, Tom Jones, and Engelbert Humperdinck to name two. Watching him perform, it is evident he gets a huge thrill in performing, where he exudes sincerity and warmth.
Rob Garrett is a veteran entertainer and tribute to Neil Diamond, and has been performing his tribute to audiences around the world since 1995. He has become the most popular, and most requested Neil Diamond tribute act in the business, and is known worldwide as “The King Of Diamonds”.
His physical and vocal resemblance to the legendary singer/songwriter is uncanny. In 2013, Rob was awarded the “Tribute Act Of The Year” award in Las Vegas, the first time the honour was given to any tribute act. Long-time Las Vegas columnist, Norm Johnson wrote....”Of all the tribute artists running around Las Vegas (and elsewhere) there is none better than Rob Garrett.”
Like his iconic counterpart, Rob was born in New York, he began learning to sing and play guitar at the age of 13. In 1974 his parents relocated to Las Vegas which still remains his home. Rob played in a band 'Rock and Roll Heaven' for 15 years. In 1994, fully aware that the celebrity impersonator industry was big business in Las Vegas, Rob made the decision to take his career in a different direction by paying tribute to one of his all time boyhood idols, and music influences, Neil Diamond. Rob continues to perform to sell out audiences at venues in and around Las Vegas, and the wider world
Of all the featured tribute acts to Neil Diamond, this band which hails from America, is the most far out. The world famous tribute band “Super Diamond” is fronted by the enigmatic and extrovert “Surreal Neil” Randy Cordeiro.
Super Diamond delivers a glittering smoke-filled, and effects laden show performing Neil Diamond’s power ballads and up tempo hits with unrestrained enthusiasm.
Super Diamond has generated an exuberant audience response previously unheard of for a tribute band. Many would say that “Super Diamond” have transcended the label “Tribute band” by passionately immersing themselves in Neil Diamond’s huge repertoire, and delivering a high octane show of unforgettable classics such as 'Cracklin Rosie', 'Sweet Caroline',
'Forever In Blue Jeans', and many others.
Front man, Randy Cordeiro, astonishes audiences with his live interpretation of the “Real Neil”. He created the charismatic character when he realised he had the uncanny ability to not only capture Neil Diamond’s voice, but his performing style and mannerisms.
There are many, many more Neil Diamond tribute acts plying their trade around the world, honest portrayals of an artist they have long admired, and wish to emulate. However, the featured acts are the most established in a very overcrowded and competitive market, and have reached a level beyond the general club circuit. Of course there are those who haven’t had the breaks that these artistes have enjoyed, and can only wish that fate had been kinder.
Neil Diamond himself has said he loves the many tribute acts that are around, and is thankful that they recognise him in such a way, and it is the finest compliment any star can ask for, and equally it keeps his music alive as well as proving that good quality music can stand the test of time.