THE WOMEN BEHIND THE MUSIC - LINDA PRESS: BACKING VOCALIST
Linda Press is the vivacious redhead who added more than a touch of glamour to the Neil Diamond band, Linda retired from the band in 2015 along with husband, bass player Reinie Press, Linda joined Neil’s band in 1976, and has garnered rave reviews for her impressive vocals, especially her duet on “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”, obvious comparisons to singing luminary Barbara Streisand followed, given that she recorded the song with Neil and achieved a number one record. However, such comparison is unfair, as both are of a different style of vocalising, Linda has perfected the art of working a song in a live setting and bringing a new life and feeling to it, her voice is husky, but can soar to a beautiful lilting high.
Linda’s entrance into the entertainment industry was almost inevitable, her stepfather was a keen musician, who played and taught flute, clarinet and saxophone in the Los Angeles area. Linda began by playing guitar, but gravitated to vocals, where she took voice coaching and joined her first touring band on the country fair circuit.
In 1969, Linda was cast in the Los Angeles company’s musical “Hair”, working her way up the ranks, until taking the musical’s lead female role “Sheila”. During this time she subsequently met and later married the company’s bass player/conductor Reinie Press, after “Hair” and performing in Las Vegas, Linda proceeded to joining the Neil Diamond Band as back up vocalist, working with her husband Reinie, who had joined the band as bass player earlier. Linda fell pregnant with their daughter, Daisy which as great a blessing. It, however, caused much concern about their position in Neil’s band, they were reluctant to break the news so as not to compromise their positions. They needn’t have worried, upon breaking the news, Neil couldn’t have been more thrilled and understanding. He told them, “Your baby is our baby, and is part of the Neil Diamond family, and will tour with us wherever we go.” This cemented what a uniquely considerate and thoughtful man Neil is. Daisy was part of the Neil Diamond family until her high school years.
Linda Press became a popular member of Neil’s band, particularly among the male fans, where she received plenty of fan mail.
It isn’t clear what Linda and Reinie are doing since retiring from the Neil Diamond Band, but they were fabulous stalwarts of the band, and will be sorely missed.
Linda is a great movie fan, she lists “The Shawshank Redemption” as one of her favourite films, she is also an avid reader, where she cites the Bronte’s as favourites.
Linda’s favourite Neil Diamond song: Solitary Man, the song that kicked it all off for Neil, and contradicts everything that Neil thought about himself.