TREASURED MEMORIES & STORIES
Recollections from Neil Diamond Fans Worldwide
RACHEL CHARLES -
Wow! Where do I begin? I have so many memories. I was blessed and fortunate to be married to the late Vince Charles.
One of my favourite memories would be that Vince loved to walk around the arena before the concert started and the fans came in. He'd stand at the very top and look down on the stage, taking it all in, knowing he'd be on that stage soon playing to thousands of devoted fans. And doing what he loved most.
Vince, most would not know, was an amazing cook, and I mean AMAZING! One of my favourites was his chicken soup … I would literally pretend to be under the weather just so he'd make a big pot of this delicious brew. The kitchen was off limits to me ... I'm British, we aren't exactly known for our culinary skills. Once in a while he'd let me observe his magic, but would always kick me out right when he was adding his secret spices. To this day I cannot figure out what they were.
Needless to say, I miss Vince and I miss his food.
His music ... Oh! The sweet sound of his pans would flow and dance through our house in the evening. I loved watching him make music. He wasn't good at it, he was GREAT at it! He was and will always be a true legend. A pioneer in the world of Caribbean music that crossed over seamlessly and effortlessly into the mainstream. Vince had a very long and distinguished career with Neil and recorded with many others. I loved to watch him perform. He and King Errisson (who incidentally is my uncle) were a great team on stage. Some of the best days of my life. I will forever be in Vince's debt. He gave myself and my daughter a chance at a great life here in America. If not for him, there'd be no me. He is truly loved and missed.
RACHEL and VINCE
VINCE CHARLES - PERCUSSIONIST & STEEL DRUM VIRTUOSO
MAY GÓMEZ DE PAZ -
Neil Diamond came to Spain in 1974. He was in my country promoting his album ‘Serenade’. Sadly, it was only a promotional tour, there was no concert. There was a
lot of media coverage and also a TV program.
I was a very young woman in love with him and his music. My love for him started two years before his visit when he recorded and released his ‘Moods’ album.
I immediately fell in love with the soft and gentle ‘Play Me’.
I was determined to do everything I could to see him while he was in Madrid. It was not easy, and no, I'm not going into the details of my "odyssey", but, I finally did it ... I got to see Neil Diamond in person!!
Neil was holding a press conference in a hotel in Madrid and I jumped the queue to be there. As the conference ended Neil headed for his room, I called to him, Neil!!! He turned around, I ran to him, he opened his arms and kissed my cheeks!! With my breathy voice, I told him how important his music was to me and how thankful
I was to have him in my life. I told him that my life had been more beautiful since he and his music became an integral part of it.
He was so lovely, so sweet, so gracious and so charming to me!!! He also told me that he was grateful for having learned about how much of an impact his music had on my life and that I listen to his music!! I must admit I hadn’t, till then, been so nervous or excited in my entire life!!
Many years have passed now and there have been incredibly precious moments in my life (I have children), but my encounter with Neil will always have a special place in my heart. I like to think that maybe, just maybe, he still remembers me, a distant memory at least.
Thanks, Neil, thanks, my dear. Thanks for so graciously granting me a precious gift; a treasured memory, a beautiful moment frozen in time and one that will last me a lifetime. Thank you for filling my life with your poetry and your beautiful music. You are the tracks of my life for you have enmeshed yourself into my very being.
Never leave us, never leave …
Footnote: ‘Play Me’: “This is a beautiful love song describing the development of the singer's relationship with a new lover from its inception through its maturity. The lover appears without explanation or question one morning next to his bed. The second verse is often ridiculed and parodied for its use of the word "brang," but it is excusable - songwriters make up words all the time for lyrical purposes. The third verse looks back on how the love of this person has guided the singer "on a road that was thorned and narrow." What isn't clear is whether the love is still current or has passed him by. The chorus celebrates how people complement each other to complete each other.
MAY GÓMEZ DE PAZ - WHEN A DREAM COMES TRUE...
On this same page I have professed my love for Neil Diamond and his music since I was a teen. I also indicated that I had the privilege of meeting him personally many years ago, but... but unfortunately I never attended any of his concerts.
I am Spanish, and sadly Neil has never sung in my country. This has always been a thorn in my heart!! But sometimes the planets line up, you meet wonderful people and life rewards you, so, finally, this year I was able to attend not one, but two of Neil’s amazing concerts at the 02 Arena in London.
It is not easy to explain all the cumulus of emotions that assaulted me when I saw Neil appear on stage... so frail physically, yet so strong artistically!
His voice continues to be magnificent and the delivery to his audience left me breathless!! He puts his soul in each song as if it was being interpreted for the very first time. I was seated very close to the stage and I could see the emotion in his face. When he sang 'Dry Your Eyes' in memory of those who lost their lives in the recent terrorist attacks, tears welled up in his eyes. Great artist, beautiful, caring human being!
During the whole concert Neil was amazing, his incredible band and the 20,000 people that attended the concerts at the O2 on October 17 and 19, totally delivered. It was magical to see how love flowed between the artist and his audience! I believe that 'Sweet Caroline' already belongs to all those millions of fans who have made it theirs. Thanks to all those who have helped me to fulfil a dream. Dear Doug, this would not have been possible without you!! Paco, I'll never thank you enough! And to all the Friends of Neil Diamond in Spain (Amigos de Neil Diamond), of whom I have only received affection and attention. To all, my eternal affection and my eternal gratitude. I just hope that these two concerts, which were the first for me, won't be the last. Thank you very much, dear Neil! Thank you for being you. Thank you for existing. God bless you!!!
02 Arena, London
Amigos de Neil Diamond
Bill, Arturo, and Amigos de Neil Diamond
MAY GÓMEZ DE PAZ - A VERY SPECIAL DINNER
I also want to tell you that I had the honour and pleasure of having dinner with two great musicians from Neil's band. Arturo Velasco (trombone) and Bill Cinque (bass) They are not only great musicians, but wonderful people. Affectionate, warm, kind... and down-to-earth, as only truly great people are.
They told us that Neil is a great person, that he always cares for them and takes great care of them. That is nothing pretentious or egotistical about him and that
he simply behaves like another member the band. They only had good words for him. Both have left an indelible mark on my heart!
The story of how Bill and Arturo got into a relationship with the Friends of Neil Diamond (Spain) does not belong to me, so I hope that my friend Paco Bueno will be encouraged to tell it. It is beautiful.
May and Arturo Velasco
May and Bill Cinque
TOM BOWYER – HOT AUGUST NIGHT 1972
August 1972, I attended one of the ten concerts that Neil Diamond did at the Greek Theatre in
Los Angeles that year, now universally known as Hot August Night. It was a combination of sheer class, soul and raw energy and one that I will never forget!
As we first sat down, I remember sitting there listening to the sounds of violins followed by an orchestral accompaniment and watching the people file in search of their seats. The stage doors were closed at the time, so there wasn't anything else to see. As the audience eventually settled in, the music built to a crescendo and 'Prologue' reached it's suspended climax! The acoustic guitar, keyboard and drums kicked in as the stage doors slowly opened and red smoke streamed out. As the smoke cleared, the orchestra and band became visible and Neil Diamond, coolly strolled on stage, strapped on his guitar,¹ and began playing it in a fencing motion! ²
The version of 'Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show' that Neil Diamond did that night was explosive! When he got to the part where he says "Brothers and Sisters", bright lights were directed in the direction of the audience, thereby causing Neil appear as a silhouette. He looked and sounded like a long-haired preacher delivering his sermon to his congregation! It was powerful and the best rendition of that song that I've seen him do in the eight Neil Diamond concerts that I've attended!
Every song he performed that night was delivered with soul and passion and proved that he was not only a great singer/songwriter, but also a dynamic performer! ³
I looked forward to seeing that show the following year, but unfortunately, Neil Diamond decided to take a sabbatical lasting 4 years. Something unheard of, and at the height of his career!
When he resumed touring in 1976, he didn't appear at the Greek until September of that year! The tickets sold out quickly, so a friend of mine and I went and saw it as 'Tree People'! We had to climb a steep hill until we reached a chain-link fence, with two football line-backer-looking security guards on the other side! They said we couldn't get in, but when the introduction music started, they ran down and tried to keep other people from entering, we then decided to chance it and proceeded to crawl under the fence and actually had a very good view of the concert! That was one of Neil’s ‘Love At The Greek' shows. On this occasion, however, video cameras were on hand to record the proceedings.
¹ “Neil came through a cloud of smoke and the audience just exploded.” – Lee Holdridge (Conductor – Hot August Night)
² Neil Diamond attended Abraham Lincoln High School, the school from which he received his high school diploma; he was a member of the fencing team. He later attended New York University on a fencing scholarship, specialising in sabre, and was a member of the 1960 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) men's championship team; into his adult life he maintained his swordsmanship skills and continued to warm up with fencing exercises before his concerts. Dance Of The Sabres -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJR6Z5ytUaE
³ "Electric ... his audience falls like plums at his feet." - Tone - Daily Variety
NB: After the song 'Done Too Soon', Neil told the audience that he didn't want to be looking at flash bulbs all night while he was performing,
so he invited the people that wanted to take pictures to the front of the stage with their cameras, while he stood with his guitar!
They quickly took their pictures and were sent back to their seats. They edited-out that part on the album as it was just dead time!
He then delivered... - TOM BOWYER
BONNIE SCHULTZ - HOT AUGUST NIGHT 1972
I was in the audience the night this album, Hot August Night, was recorded. And, yes, I do believe it was the greatest live performance I've ever seen.
Neil had, if I remember correctly, a 30-piece orchestra with conductor and composer Lee Holdridge behind him. The strings were magical and it was the most entertaining concert I have ever been to. I went to see him 3 times that week and, to this day, I can't forget how fantastic he sounded.
PAUL MORRIS - HOT AUGUST NIGHT 1972
I've lived all over the USA. Attended more concerts than I can remember, but that night in 1972, at the Greek makes all the others pale in comparison. If you listen closely, you might hear my shouts and applause on the record. Sorry, I couldn't help that. I clearly remember the shouts and cheers of the "Tree People" on that night. Neil Diamond thanked them and said he was "singin' for you, too." The Greek is surrounded in the rear by tall pines. People climbed them to see and hear the concert for free. Nobody cared. We were all caught up in the euphoria. I sat center stage left, just behind the orchestra seats. What a night. Seared into my memory.
JACKIE BECK –
"Dream, that’s what you do … Dream, ‘cause dreams come true.“ These words of Neil’s summarise my feelings on December 4, 2011
When I heard that Neil Diamond was to be an honoree at the Kennedy Center Honors event on December 4, 2011, I immediately embarked on a quest for a ticket.
The Honors event was hosted by Caroline Kennedy. President Obama and the First Lady would be there, as well as many other famous Hollywood stars. I really needed a bit of luck for this evening to happen for me, but I really wanted to see Neil get this Honor.
I called the Kennedy Center and was told that it was an “invitation only” evening. Later, I found that a wait list was kept in case there were any available seats or cancellations, but that this would probably be, at best, a last minute find. I got my name on that list very quickly and was very near the top of the wait list. I went shopping for some “red carpet” clothing, and got my husband to rent a tuxedo. We were READY. Somehow I just BELIEVED that I would get tickets to this event.
When the day arrived (December 4) and I still didn’t have tickets, my husband and I started driving towards Washington, DC, thinking if it didn’t happen, we would visit our son, or perhaps we would be going out somewhere very fancy. At exactly 11:59 am I received the call that we had tickets. There I was, actually SCREAMING in delight as we drove down interstate 70.
The show was fabulous! A magnificent tribute to Neil and the other honorees. The sound of Sweet Caroline in that theater was beyond thrilling as everyone joined in, even Caroline Kennedy on stage. It was loud enough to raise the roof! I have often wondered how Neil felt when he heard that rendition.…WOW!…. words just cannot describe.
Following the show there was a dinner dance. I managed to catch sight of Neil and made my way over to try and meet him. I had to stand in line to get to him, and
as I stood there someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I would like a picture with him—it was Lionel Richie! He was very friendly, and I chatted with him a bit as I waited for Neil. Finally, I got up to Neil…. flustered and feeling like I was going to just fall apart in excitement, I managed to meet him. It was a dream come true!
A bit later, as Neil was seated at the dinner table, I gave him a small gift that I had brought along for him. It wasn’t much for a famous star, but he did seem to like it - at least I hope so. I really just wanted to just give him a hug. I wished I could have met Katie too, but I didn’t catch sight of her.
We were still deciding whether to stay in the city or drive home when a call from my son about his wife’s labor contractions made the decision for us!
We drove to our son’s home and waited for baby Hailey! She is now an awesome 5-year-old granddaughter, and her birth-night will never be forgotten.
LES HEMINGWAY - AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER
It was the 1970s, a simpler time, and halcyon days for people of my age back then. Life just seemed easier, I was a young man of 22 looking for adventure, and it was with this in mind, I took a vacation to California, I asked my 17 year old nephew to accompany me, to which he agreed, so that was that, two young men striding out into the vast open spaces of America.
I had never been anywhere beyond Ohio and Kentucky, so this was an opportunity to see the Pacific Ocean and the West Coast, the intention was to see Catalina.
Catalina is one of California’s channel islands, and lies Southwest of Los Angeles, and is known for its wildlife, diving sites, and Mount Orizaba, its highest peak, there is a resort town of two harbours to the North, and the city of Avalon lies to the south with its palm tree lined beaches, it was the kind of idyllic location I was looking for.
To this end, we took a boat to the island, it was early morning, and rather cold, particularly on the open water, expectations were that it would warm up by mid-afternoon, probably hitting the mid-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and more.
We took our place at the open area of the boat, there were two vacant seats next to us, before long a gentleman and a lady boarded the boat, and took the two vacant seats next to us. I eyed the couple as one tends to do, the man was rather tall, long tousled hair, typical of the style back then, I noticed this he was wearing sunglasses, which I thought was odd given how overcast it was, I looked at him again, for some reason he looked strangely familiar, and yet I couldn’t place how, or why.
It was then the lady spoke, “Neil, you just can’t wait to get to the house and get warm, can you?” I looked at the man again, but more closely this time, I am sure he must have felt uncomfortable with my observing him in such a way, and then it hit me, was this man music superstar Neil Diamond?
I am a big Neil Diamond fan, and the resemblance this man bore was uncanny, he was a dead ringer for Neil, I turned to my nephew, I whispered quietly, “You see this guy sitting next to me? I think he is Neil Diamond. ”My nephew replied, “What? Are you sure?” I replied, “Yes, I’m sure...”
After observing him again, or rather staring, I plucked up the nerve to ask, “Excuse me, sir, I don’t wish to pry, but are you Neil Diamond?” The man looked at me, and gave a grin, and replied, “Yes, I am, but I would ask that you keep it between you and me, I don’t want to draw any further attention to ourselves.” I replied, “As you wish.”
Imagine that, the intention to go on an adventure, and I crossed paths with my music hero. We chatted a little, where Neil spoke of travelling to the island to get ideas for songs he would write in the studio on the island, where he could relax, and think without being interrupted. I found Neil down-to-earth, polite and completely unpretentious. A wonderful human being.
What a thrill! The forty-five minute journey passed like it was only ten minutes. When we arrived at the island the sun was out. As they disembarked, they had a car waiting for them.
My nephew and I continued our adventure, and it was everything and more.
I saw Neil Diamond perform in Cincinnati in the 80s, my mind wandered back to that day on the boat in the 70s, and that most unexpected encounter.
DINA JOLLY -
I loved Jackie Beck’s wonderful memory of the December 4, 2011 Kennedy Center event with Neil Diamond as an Honoree. Getting a new dress and making sure her husband had his tux ready was perfect. It was thrilling when they got tickets and were present for the evening.
We planned a June 10th family get-together. I wanted younger members of the family to sing some Neil Diamond songs with my husband’s band. In May, I spent several weeks listening to as many songs on YouTube as I could find on Neil Diamond. I had forgotten what a master songwriter, he is. I heard for the first time some of Neil Diamond's rarer songs which fascinated me.
For over 20 years my husband has had an all-volunteer amateur band. They play for local fundraisers, village parades, disabled children’s camps, etc., and for each other events. The songs I chose were: ‘Forever in Blue Jeans’, for the young, ‘Beautiful Noise’, for all the past and present commuters to NYC; and for the young women, the tender and joyful ‘Sweet Caroline’. It was a very special evening for family and friends.
My husband suggested we get tickets to the Neil Diamond concert on June 15 at Madison Square Garden. I suffer from vertigo, but we thought the Section 100 seats were not too steep and I could be comfortable.
On the evening of June 15, we left early and on the way to NYC, but got in a total traffic jam for a half hour. When we arrived at Madison Square Garden, I found I could not be comfortable in the seats we had. Back down to the Box Office, there was a line, after some time we were able to get 2 tickets in Section 21 on the ground level.
We were sure the concert had started. We made our way to our seats. Just as we were seated Neil Diamond came on stage. It was one electric, fabulous concert, which we were happy to be at Madison Square Garden to see and hear Neil Diamond.
After the second song, Neil went to the back of the stage, and asked the fans who had seats in that section how much they paid for their seats. He said he would come back once in a while during the performance. Every now and then during the show he would disappear to the back. It was very thoughtful of him.
DIANE SUNDESTEN -
I Just wanted to post a true narrative in honor of Mr. Diamond's birthday. Last summer, I was visiting my daughter's family in Pittsburgh. My granddaughter wanted to go to this amusement park, Kennywood, for her birthday. It was all roller coasters and rides that spin around. Just looking at them made me feel nauseous. But, all three of my grand kids were there and I was enjoying watching them having a good time. It began to rain and they closed the rides down for a while. There we were, huddled under an awning by a food stand, eating corn dogs and drinking watered-down lemonade. We were a miserable looking group, I guess, but I was enjoying myself, watching my grand kids playing in the rain. They tried to splash each other in the puddles and splashed a few innocent passers-by, as well. My grandson started crying because he thought we'd have to leave early, so we spent more money on carnival games, as they were the only thing to do, not in the rain. The rides eventually reopened, so I watched my family going on them, while I stood holding my daughter's purse. After it became dark, a laser show with music started on this huge white wall. I recognized the last song of the night from the very first note of Neil Diamond's 'America.' There were laser images of famous American landmarks, ending with an image of Mr. Diamond's famous pose from 'The Jazz Singer.' My son-in-law came up to me, smiling. "There's something for everyone at Kennywood,"
he said. I guess that about sums it up. Neil Diamond has always been a "something" of mine.
DIANE SUNDESTEN -
I may be a strange old woman, but sometimes I feel like Neil Diamond’s lyrics are speaking directly to me. Once, I was driving along listening to ‘Hello Again’ on my old CD player in my equally old car, the player spit out my CD, like it does at times, but on this occasion, ‘Hello Again’ continued to play! ¹ Now, that freaked me out at first, until I realized that ‘Hello Again’ just happened to be playing on the radio at exactly the same time! I just figured that Neil Diamond wanted me to hear that song, right then.
This morning I was feeling a little down, as I started off on my walk along the Soos Creek Trail. Sunny and a little breezy it was a welcome change from all of the rain we’ve been having in the Seattle area. The first song to come up on my iPod was ‘On the Robert E. Lee’, from ‘The Jazz Singer’ -
Got the sun in my eyes
And the wind on my face
And it’s good just to be alive…
On my way back down the trail, as I approached my car, I passed by a young woman. I had never noticed her on the trail before. She smiled up at me as I passed by her. She was in a wheel chair. “Quit your whining, Diane,” I told myself.
¹ Webmaster: Relieved you didn't drive off the road!
DIANE SUNDESTEN - A SWEET STORY...
My granddaughter, Emma, has been listening to Neil Diamond with me since she was a baby. At age two, she was yelling out “Today!” to ‘America.’ Now that she’s over twelve, she has developed some of her own taste in music and likes some of the current artists. At times, though, I still catch her singing along with me to Neil Diamond, when she thinks I’m not looking.
One Saturday, Emma and I were out running errands in my car most of the day. I was even a nice grandma and took her to the mall for a while. Of course, I was listening to and singing along with my Neil Diamond CDs in the car. That night Emma walked into my bedroom, listening to and singing along with her phone. I’m not too cool, so I had never even heard this group, Smash Mouth, but I sure recognized those lyrics.
“Emma,” I said. “That’s ‘I’m a Believer.’ It was first recorded by a group called The Monkees, in the 1960’s, when grandma was in high school. It was written by none other than, Neil Diamond.”
“Oh, no!” Emma said. “I just can’t escape him. “But, Emma, who would ever want to escape from Neil Diamond?”
DIANE SUNDESTEN - MY WICHITA NEIL DIAMOND CONCERT...
While waiting in line to enter, I met a young man (young to me, anyway… he was probably in his forties). He told me that
he had stood out in ten degree weather months ago to get front row seats for his mother. Once inside, I saw him at the concession stand buying a T-shirt for his mother. What a sweetie!
Just before the concert, I was waiting in line in the women's room. I was clapping and jumping in place a little. Some of the women gave me strange looks, so I said, "I'm just so excited!" Then, most of the women started clapping along with me.
Sitting next to me was an older couple, about my age. We started talking before the concert began. The man told me that he had been in a band when he was younger and had covered some of Mr. Diamond's music. He also mentioned that ‘Sweet Caroline’ was his favourite. When the concert started, I was screaming and clapping loudly after each song. I told the man sitting next to me that ‘Sweet Caroline’ was usually an encore song, so if he wanted to hear it, we needed to make some noise. He started screaming and clapping after every song with me. I gave him a thumbs up and said, "Good job!" His wife leaned over to me and said, "You work with children, don't you?" Yup.
Neil Diamond fans are the best!
DIANE SUNDESTEN - MORE STORIES ABOUT MY KIDS AND MR. DIAMOND'S MUSIC...
When my son was young, he began sounding out words and reading at an early age. He must have been about four when we drove by a sign for a lake by our house - Lake Desire. He pronounced it, "Lake Desiree". Wonder where he'd heard that name?
One of my day-care kids, a five-year-old girl, got an old iPhone from her parents and had them upload many Neil Diamond songs for her. "Don't worry, Diane," she told me. "I have your very favorite song, 'The Story Of My Life'.
While riding in my van, my day-care kids enjoy yelling out, "Today!" when 'America' is playing. Of course, yelling out anything while I'm driving is a big thrill. Once, the kids decided that we should make 'America' our national anthem. Well, maybe that national anthem thing was my idea, but some of them did actually know what a national anthem is -"It's that song they sing before Seahawks games." I'm sure the fact that I was taking them to Wendy’s for Frosties didn't influence them.
One day in the van, I was listening to and singing along with 'Like You Do' on my 'Tennessee Moon' CD, when I heard, "Diane, Sam's crying!" I looked in the rear view mirror and sure enough, there was eight-year-old Sam with a sad face and real tears. When I asked him what was wrong he replied, "That song is just so sad." I noticed that the older boy sitting next to Sam had a look on his face that told me he was thinking of making fun of Sam. Of course, I gave one of my little moral lectures--"Don't ever make fun of someone for being sensitive, for crying. Someday, you may read a sad story, see a sad movie, or hear a sad song that will make you feel like crying. You wouldn't want someone making fun of you."
In a Wendy’s parking lot on that day, there was an old woman and an eight-year-old boy standing hugging, crying just a little.
NORMAN ROSENBLOOM -
As a 28 year old recent college graduate, my wife, four friends and I had the great good fortune of attending the most incredible concert of our lifetimes,
Hot August Night at the Greek Theatre on August 24th, 1972.
My friend Dave worked for the county and was able to get tickets for $2.00 each. To be honest, when Dave offered to get the tickets, I did not know the name Neil Diamond. However, once the concert began, I realised that I recognised and loved the music of Neil Diamond. The concert was mesmerising.
In the years since, we have been very fortunate, having attended many, many great concerts featuring everyone from Elton John, Paul Anka, Peter Noone, Johnny Mathis, the Four Seasons and many, many others. None of those concerts can come close to seeing Neil Diamond that hot August night.
I am listening to the Hot August Night album that I bought shortly after the concert, as I write this. It is as wonderful as it was that memorable, magical night. We have seen and loved Neil several times over the years. We even went to the 40th Anniversary Hot August Night concert, at the Greek Theatre. I wish there could be a 50th Anniversary concert. The Greek Theatre, Hot August Night memory can never be duplicated. It was thrilling and as fresh in my mind as if it were just yesterday.
So incredibly sad to have learned about the terrible illness that has taken Neil Diamond away from us way too soon. One of my all-time favourite movies is Neil Diamond’s remake of the ‘Jazz Singer’. My father, grandmother and great grandfather were all in the original Al Jolson ‘Jazz Singer’. Even my father had to admit that Neil was incredible in that movie.
Thank you Neil Diamond, for giving us and the world a lifetime of incredible music.
DONITA BELL -
Although I can't remember the exact year, I was asked to go to a Neil Diamond concert in Hartford, Connecticut by a co-worker between 1978-1984. He told me how much Neil gives of himself and always gives a great show.
I was amazed and awestruck by him. It was by far the best concert that I ever attended. My life went on, but I never forgot that night. At times, it was difficult to listen to his music since some of his songs were so deep that I felt saddened by them. I even gave the recordings to my sister before moving away.
Decades passed and over the years I adored him in ‘The Jazz Singer’ and caught him on his television specials.
This past January when I learned of his retirement from touring, I was so sad that I went into a stage of mourning. It became my mission to purchase whatever I could find of his music for it was important to bring back feelings into my life.
Soon to retire myself, I bought an inexpensive acoustic guitar and started to learn on my own. Soon I plan on taking some lessons.
On a daily basis, I watch videos and interviews of him on YouTube and joined a few fan clubs. There is a fine line between idolatry and sheer respect for one's God-given talent and I choose the latter.
Does he even know how special he is? I love, love, love his work. He speaks to the heart and soul of everyone who has ears. So tormented he must have been to be "hearing music in his mind" for so long. His perfection and attention to every detail was noticed and spoken about by others in his production crew. He is truly deserving of the word Icon.
DONALD ARMSTRONG - WOBURN ABBEY 1977
Woburn Abbey 1977. A night to remember indeed. There was a little bit more to our journey there that day. Five of us, including my late Mum, flew over that morning from Belfast, Northen Ireland. It was in the days of going to the airport and putting your name on a chalkboard in the hope of getting a seat (standby) which we did on the first flight out that morning. The flight attendant came round like a bus conductor and took our fare and reeled off our tickets from the machine hanging round her neck. Taxi from Heathrow to Woburn and time for a pint before joining the queue that hot afternoon.
Most were listening to the Wimbledon men's singles final between Borg and Connors (Borg won) on their little transistor radios. Then came the stampede to get the best seats which, thank goodness we had tickets for, I think ours cost us £7 if memory serves me right.
Neil was awesome that night, though one of my most vivid memories were the big hot air balloons that came out of the darkness with all hanging out of the baskets looking down at us as they flew over and disappeared back into the dark. Another were the banks of speakers either side of the stage. I think the whole of Oxfordshire must have heard the show that night. Ha! The band came onstage from the right and of course all eyes were there until a glint of blue caught our eyes from the left hand side and Neil was there.
All too soon the night was over and then we had to make our way back to Heathrow, spend the rest of the night talking about Neil's fantastic performance before flying home Sunday morning. Thought it would be the only time I would get to see Neil but have seen him 10 more times. Woburn 1977 will always be the BEST.
MARK WEBSTER - WOBURN ABBEY 1977
Saturday, July 2nd 1977. I was just 17 years old when my sister (a long term dedicated Neil Diamond fan) asked me to go with her to attend his concert at Woburn Abbey.
I was not at all keen, but I didn't want her to go alone, so we boarded a train in London and headed off to what was a real life changer for me.
The vast crowd was buzzing and the hairs stood up on my neck, but I just couldn't see why. Then it happened, the man himself appeared, and the crowd was like nothing I had witnessed before or since, he moved me with not only his lyrics, but the delivery of the songs, he taught me to cry (in a nice way) along with the music. Every word has its place and deep meaning in every song.
When I eventually go to my grave, I will do so knowing the power of music. I have been a dedicated fan of this truly great man ever since that evening.
Thank you, Neil Diamond for having such a powerful influence on me, not only for the music, but the way I appreciate everything in life all because because I found your music.
SHILOH KLIENSCHMIT -
I got to see Neil in Salt Lake at the University. When the show was over, we ran around back, hoping to catch a glimpse of him as he left. We were there for quite a while, and I noticed that a black limo sitting in the docking bay with its motor running all the time we waited. Thinking that it was going to run out of gas soon, I ran up to the window as there was no one there. As the window was down, I reached in and turned it off. The driver had gone in for a minute.
When he came back, he asked who turned it off, everyone turned to me. I raised my hand, waiting to get squished. He left, and when he returned, he said that Neil said, “Thank you.”
Neil finally came out and got in his car. As they drove out, he rolled down his window, he smiled and waved at me. Best night of my life!
ERIC BENJAMIN GORDON -
I was encouraged to come here and share my memories of the artist we all know as Neil Diamond, by the proprietor of Neil Diamond Central, after having left several comments on various YouTube videos under the handle of ShreadTheWeapon.
I was born in January of 1980, the year Neil Diamond appeared in and recorded the songs for ‘The Jazz Singer’. My first two or three years of life were defined by children’s music. If I remember correctly, Neil was the first mainstream pop artist whose music I heard, and as such, he was my first hero. The first four records of his I recall hearing were ‘The Jazz Singer’ (1980), ‘On the Way to the Sky’ (1981), ‘Love At The Greek’ (1976) and ‘I’m Glad You’re Here with Me Tonight’ (1977). I was at least three years old at the time, maybe younger.
The following year, I was treated to the first two volumes of his '12 Greatest Hits’ and first heard the ‘Hot August Night’ versions of ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Holly Holy’ ,
(the original versions of which still seem like different songs to me). I was very thrilled to be given an opportunity to watch Neil in concert at Madison Square Garden in 1992. I wouldn’t go so far as to refer to that evening as a “hot August night“, half as much as a rainy one. It was, however, highly memorable. Somewhere in my childhood home, I still have a poster from that concert.
Although ‘The Best Years Of Our Lives’ was the latest Neil Diamond album I listened to and the ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ soundtrack the earliest one between 1988 and 2009 (when I heard ‘Home Before Dark’). I can never overestimate the impact which the records I did listen to had on me. Although he, himself may have soured utterly on ‘Solitary Man’ and ‘Cherry Cherry’ over the last 50+ years, both songs still strike me as fresh and new, just like the music of Neil’s contemporaries of the
And, that’s before I even get on the subject of Neil’s accompanists. After I started playing music myself during the mid-1990s, Neil was just one of the artists whose material I approached for the second time less from strictly a listening point of view than an analytical point of view, wanting to know more about the people that helped him make it.
It did not take me too long to figure out that my favourite Diamondville line-up was the one with Richard Bennet and Doug Rhone on guitars, Alan Lindgren and Tom Hensley on keyboards/synthesizers, Renee and Linda Press on respective bass and background vocals, Dennis St. John, King Errison and the late Vince Charles as percussionist which lasted from ‘Beautiful Noise’ (1976) until Richard’s exit amid ‘Headed For The Future’ (1986), before which Ron Tutt replaced Dennis on drums.
Playing almost all of the instruments featured on Neil‘s records from that time frame myself, I would be amiss to deny how important all those musicians were to me in tandem with Neil himself. During the week of May 6, 2018, I took stock of how Neil‘s rendition of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Free Man In Paris’ which closes ‘I’m Glad You’re Here with Me Tonight’ eloquently. It utilizes the lead guitar chops of both Richard and Doug, along with how I believe I can identify what each of them is playing. And, Alan’s Minimoog/Orchestron parts during the ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull Medley’ from ‘Love At The Greek’ had an abundant impact on my desire to learn how to play my own synthesizers, as well as guitar.
LILY KILHAUER -
'Hot August Night' the first album I ever owned and it was on an 8-track. I played it till I wore it out! Still a "Diamond Head" since 1972 and raising my grandkids and great granddaughters on the Best music EVER from the most SOULFUL singer EVER - Neil Diamond. I doubt Neil has a real clue how much he has helped and continues to do so, others through what he does. Even helped save my sanity while I was unable to escape a very abusive situation. Left just about everything behind... except for ALL my Neil Diamond CD's that I grabbed and ran with.
RICHARD MATHIESON -
Since his early days I have been a fan. I have gone through 8-tracks, cassettes, records and CDs. I am most definitely a fan of Neil Diamond.
In 1972, at the age of 14, I was sitting in my mom’s car while she was inside the bank. I had a savings account totalling $87.00 at the same bank. As she was going to be in the bank for a while, I slipped in and withdrew $85.00, virtually wiping out my savings account, leaving a princely balance of $2.00.
I then headed went across the street to a music store, and bought a cassette tape recorder and a Neil Diamond cassette, ‘Stones’. We lived far out in the countryside and didn't go into town very often. We barely had AM radio at the time, but, I knew I had to have Neil Diamond's ‘I Am … I Said’. It was the first recording I ever purchased.
I got in so much trouble for emptying my savings account, but I didn't care; I could listen to the song anytime and every time I wanted. It also had
‘I Am … I Said’ (Reprise) on the second side, and it is still one of my favorite songs by him (there are so many). We lived outside of Medford, Oregon, which didn't get many concerts, certainly not Neil Diamond.
I tried for many years to acquire concert tickets, and finally got tickets to a concert in Portland, Oregon in 1986. I had to fly to Portland, to get the tickets. My son was born the day before the concert, and I was still going to go without my wife. Everything was fine, till I was over overruled by our families. I was told, at the very least,
I would be castrated if I attended the concert. (I was weighing the options, Neil Diamond or the family jewels). I really wanted to go. Some friends of ours came to the hospital to "talk me out of going" and said they would take the tickets, so they wouldn't go to waste. They reported back how fantastic the concert was. Since then, however, I’m happy to say, I have been able to attend four amazing concerts.
I remember the planning involved to see 'Love at the Greek' on TV. Back then we only had three TV channels, and the reception was exceedingly poor.
When I was in tenth grade, at an art class. I made a poster of Neil Diamond, in his cape, the cover of from ‘Hot August Night’.
I could go on and on. I still write songs that no one will ever hear. What I get from his songs, I can't explain. I am definitely moved by them. They are the tracks of my life …
I have always appreciated and favored singer/songwriters over singers. They are able to capture and convey words and music that speak to you, and make you " feel" what they are expressing and you reflect your own thoughts and feelings. Neil Diamond has that songwriting ability; a gift.
The world would sadly have been denied so much pleasure and happiness had Neil chosen another career; I'm thankful and so are his millions of fan worldwide. Thank you Neil Diamond.
NIRANJANA MOOLENAAR -
I first heard of Neil Diamond in the late 60s. There was something fascinating about his voice that touched my heart and soul. I have been a fan all these years.
I have every album available in my country and I am always waiting for the next one. Through all those years, I never once got the chance to see Neil live in concert.
As such, I am thrilled that he has decided to come to Amsterdam this year as part of his 50th Anniversary World Tour. He will be performing at the Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, on September 10, 2017. I, like other Neil fans here, are in for the treat of our lifetime!
Neil has, over the years, given me such joy and happiness. His music is the tracks of my life. His words and music is inspirational and have been life changing for me.
There has always been a spiritual side to many of Neil’s songs, but when he made a definite effort to move in this direction, I was blown away! What an amazing man!
I love him for that and the gift of music he has blessed us with for 50 years. This Diamond is forever; he turned on and kept alight my heart light. Thank you Neil.
SUZANNE STROOP -
I was just seventeen and bored with nothing to do. Instead of sitting at home on a rainy Saturday, my mother dropped me off at The Bayfront Theatre in St. Petersburg, Florida. I stood in line all alone to get one of the last tickets for Dick Clark's 'Caravan of Stars'. I'd heard Neil sing on the radio, but when he came on stage all alone with just a black guitar ... I was mesmerised. By the time he finished his short set of three songs, I could literally feel my heart melting. I gave it to him that day so very long ago, and he still has it although he doesn't know. That's okay, because he has so very many it would be difficult to count them all. Fifty years of loving him has become a part of me. I still cry when I listen to those very old songs like 'Do It', smile when I listen to Hot August Night, and cry again when I listen to 'Remember Me' or
SUZANNE STROOP -
My last time seeing Neil was the best and at the same time, the worst. In July of 2012, we drove to Chicago and waited for hours, only because I wanted so to get a peek of him coming to the arena. Of course I didn’t, but I’d made a shirt with pictures along with parts of his songs everywhere on it. I’d even bought a pair of black jeans and put his name down one side.
I watched, praying that I wouldn’t cry until the end … but every song brought tears to my eyes. And the last one, ‘I’ve Been This Way Before’, left me sobbing because I knew it would be my final time. Although he has toured twice since then, we have never been able to afford the cost. Still, my heart belongs to him, just as it has since
I was 17 and saw him all alone with no band … just Neil and his black guitar. And even now I can see myself watching on that day so very long ago.
THEA BIARD –
The day after Neil’s brilliant show in Antwerp in 2015, my friend, Fabienne Cholley (from Paris), and I were walking down the streets of Antwerp when we ran into
Neil and Katie! Neil seemed totally relaxed as he sipped on his Starbucks coffee.
They were very friendly and we talked for a while. Katie, noticing that I had my camera on me kindly offered to take a photo of the three of us. Fabienne and I were so touched by Katie’s friendliness and kindness.
Neil and Katie then left us and strolled on. As soon as they were out of sight, Fabienne and I jumped for joy. A truly beautiful and memorable experience and one which the two of us will always cherish.
SANDY BRYNE –
I have been a fan of Neil Diamond since the early 80’s. I have been fortunate to have attended 7 of his concerts over the years: 1982 - Cincinnati, Ohio / 1993 - Dayton, Ohio / 1996 - Cleveland, Ohio / 1998 - Columbus, Ohio / 2001 - Columbus, Ohio / 2005 - Columbus, Ohio and 2015 - Columbus, Ohio.
When I received my tickets for the 1998 concert in Columbus I decided to create a T-shirt to wear to the concert. While waiting in line at the venue 3 people offered to purchase the shirt off me. One offer was for a hundred dollars. When I declined the offer, the lady asked if I would make one for her. I declined and told her “Sorry, this shirt is one of a kind” … just like Neil. 8-)
Neil’s music has great healing power. It has gotten me through some rough times over the years.
Thank you, Neil, for all the enjoyment you have given us with the sound of your voice and the words of your songs that come from your heart!
LINDA HERMER, Ph.D. -
During high school, a dear friend of mine with some autistic traits, and who later had 5 boys on the autistic spectrum of disorders, was a choreographer. I used to be a gymnast, and as a 9th grader who had recently quit the sport, I gravitated toward Sheryl's choreography and dance troupe.
We could not always communicate deeply with words, but we choreographed and performed together several pieces of Neil's music, including ‘Hello Again’ and ‘Love on the Rocks”. Regarding the latter song, neither of us had been sexually active let alone involved with someone over a lot of drinks at that point in our lives, but we related our turbulent high school world to the song nonetheless, and were asked to perform the work at multiple further high school events.
I thank Neil for his many moving songs, including ‘I Am … I Said’, ‘Holly Holy’, and so many other works.
STEPHANIE STAVROPOULOS -
I have loved Neil Diamond since I was at least 13. I am not 100% sure which of Neil's songs got me "into" him; but thinking back, whenever he came up in conversation,
I would say that ‘Longfellow Serenade’ (Serenade album), was the one that I would mention. I also remember the couple of times that my sister who passed away four years ago, and her then boyfriend, (whom she eventually married), went to see him, and I can remember asking them if he sang 'Longfellow Serenade' when they saw him in concert.
Like everyone else who is a fan, his music and his words do wonderful things to our minds body and spirit! The first album of his that I got was Moods. My mom found it at a garage sale, I think she paid 25 cents for it! The man just turned 75 and he’s just as handsome today, as he was back in the 60's! The years have been most kind to him. He comes from a terrific gene pool! Those of you out there if you remember when you were seniors in high school and had to choose a "senior quote” (that’s what they were known as in the school I went attended), where you picked out a line or two from your favourite poem or song, well, I chose a line from Neil Diamond’s
‘I Am … I Said’- "I never cared for the sound of being alone" this is because I was a loner in high school.
Neil may you continue to make beautiful noises; you are a gem of an entertainer and a human being!
GENE CZAPLINSKI -
I saw Neil on Broadway in 1974. It was a very tough crowd on a Friday night, dressed up, lots of dressed-up business people, critics, more like an uppity Lincoln Center crowd. I wasn't sure how he would handle it. Well ... HE BROUGHT THE HOUSE DOWN! Once he got them going, they went absolutely crazy, standing ovation after standing ovation. It was magic incarnate, how he transformed them with his amazing music and presence … and a wonderful lifetime memory for me ...
WILLIAM DAVIDSON -
When I got back home to the USA from Vietnam in 1969 I fell in love with Diamond's music and over the years he has proven to be a most unique person. I love Neil because he can take his music to those of us who can only listen and relate, but do not have the certain grasp of insight or verbal power to put down in words, this introspective core of our lives that Neil so honestly and purely brings to the surface and puts the resulting words to music. Those who cannot relate to Neil do not need to as they are of a different sort. But obviously he has touched the very heart of a great number of people and they have been able to see their own wonder in his music and thereby attracted to a reality that lives in their own soul. Neil is a winner of epic proportions.
ANGELA - BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND -
Where to begin...
I write of these treasured memories in awe of the great Neil Diamond, the genius songwriter and talented singer that he is. Of our treasured memories of attending his concerts which span decades for my family.
Our father who passed away from cancer at home with his family around him. We sat by his bedside and played Neil Diamond songs as he rested in the final 3 weeks of his life.
My father passed away aged only 69. Our Mum, my sister and I knew that he had a deep love for Mr Diamond's music from day one, back in the day. My Dad had every CD, DVD, joined the fan club, and attended concerts at our hometown in England, UK. This love for his music extended to our entire family. We have fond memories of hearing my Dad sing along to the Neil’s songs in our childhood home, Christmas time and holiday time. Neil Diamond's music bought our family much joy and many treasured memories.
My sister bought tickets for the 50th Anniversary World Tour for our father. Sadly, he passed away before the day of the concert arrived. The cancer became terminal and chemotherapy was ceased. A matter of weeks later, our Dad passed away.
My sister and I attended the 50th Anniversary concert a few months later. As it turned out, it was to be Neil Diamond’s last concert tour.
I am unable to describe the truly cherished memories that flooded over us for the entire duration of the concert. We celebrated our father's love for a great musical legend. We sang, we cried, we loved. We were in awe of a true professional; a true musical genius. We knew how special Neil Diamond was to our father and to all of us. Forever in our hearts. We will never stop listening to the music this musical genius, decades on…
Thank you so much Neil Diamond, you brought boundless joy to my father's life and ours as well. It's more than just the songs, more than the music; it's the great emotional journey throughout our lives that you have taken my family on. For this we are, and always will be forever thankful and grateful.
CINDY NITSOS - SO I GOT A TATTOO...
I've been a ND fan since I was, an obviously very discerning, 7 year old... I'm now almost 35.
Bear with me - this sounds good, in my head!
I used to get bullied for my musical taste. I've copped a lot of ribbing over the years... so this is a big 'up yours' to those people... I freaking love Neil Diamond. Always will.
Growing up and trying to find my place in the world, Neil Diamond was the voice in my head.
I used to fall asleep listening to a mix tape I'd put together of love songs (this may be why I have a completely unrealistic expectation of how that's supposed to work... Neil Diamond makes it sound amazing, and I've only encountered that once. Everyone else = totally underwhelming… Ugh!
I'd carry a CD around with me at school, to listen to in the computer labs. And decorate my locker with pictures of Neil (none of this Brad Pitt stuff the other girls had!).
When I was going through the struggles of being a teenager, Neil was there. My grandmother passing away? Neil Diamond. When I felt seriously down? Slower songs, (still love the ‘Heartlight’ and ‘Lovescape’ albums - they were my go-to). When I was ready to rock? No dramas finding music there. I still crank up ‘Hot August Night’ when I'm cleaning at home... best way to pass the time when vacuuming!
Seeing Neil Diamond live in concert was my happy place. I made my whole family plan an international holiday around me in 2012, when I impulsively bought a ticket to the 40th Anniversary of Hot August Night shows at the Greek Theatre in LA... Travel dates had to fit in with me heading to the US (from Greece!). I'm so glad I did that... was such an incredible experience!
Was shattered with the Parkinson's announcement last year, and have vowed to make a donation to Parkinson's research every year on the 24th of January, for obvious reasons.
Anyway, I genuinely think that Neil Diamond has helped shape the person I am today. I know I'm not perfect (pretty damn close though! LOL). But I'm pretty happy with who I am, and I absolutely attribute a good chunk of that to that wonderful voice in my head.
So... I had been thinking about this for a while, and about 2 months ago, I finally bit the bullet and went and got this:
(Please excuse my 'just got out of the shower' shot! It's not massive - less than 5cm wide, and on my hip).
So - not that he's ever too far away – Neil Diamond is well and truly back on my radio. Permanent playlist at the moment! It calms me.
So, thanks Neil Diamond, I'm proud to be permanently branded a Diamond Girl!
HARMON WOOD -
Right before he performed his Hot August Night concerts in 1972, I MC'd a Neil concert in Texas. He was very mellow and we had a couple of interesting conversations. The comedian who was scheduled got sick and a last-minute sub was brought in. So, I got up on stage and introduced "Anthony Brooks" who, coming onto the stage, screamed at me, "You got my name wrong, it's Albert Brooks." Neil said, "You know, all he has is his name." I reached into my pocket and produced the note the stage manager had given me which said, "ANTHONY BROOKS," in all caps. Neil took the note and said, "I'll take care of this," and disappeared for a half hour. When he reappeared, he had completely transformed into a performer with boots that added about 3 inches to his height, 50 pounds of hair and show clothes. I didn't talk to him ... just introduced him and got out of the way.
DANIEL PAUL DEBS -
I had dinner in China Town in Sydney in the late 90's and I took a walk down to Darling Harbour. Neil had just finished a concert and a bus with his band was entering the main road. He was sitting in the rear bench seat of the bus on his own, with both arms over the backs of the seat, with a huge grin on his face, like he'd just swallowed a Cheshire cat, with a big cigar in his mouth. I smile whenever I think of it.
KYLE ALLARD -
I'm a huge fan. I have seen Neil Diamond in Indiana, Utah, San Diego and Kentucky. Friday the 26th in Indianapolis will be my 9th time concert attendance. I have taken my mom to see Neil. She is 86 and has Alzheimer's and lives with me. It's hard to get her out and to a seat because of the walking involved, but I have a sitter so
I will be there!
Five weeks ago I thought maybe I wouldn't get to see Neil again. I thought what if this is really his last tour and I missed it! You see, my cousin's boyfriend had the tickets and they had a fire. My cousin tried to get her little Yourkie out, but he wouldn't come to her. She stayed and tried to put the fire out and burned her head. She finally gave up and left. The fireman found her little dog and thought he was gone, but the paramedics gave him oxygen and brought him back. So we had our miracle, he was okay and my cousin is recovering from the smoke inhalation. The next day it hit me that our Neil Diamond tickets were in that fire! I called and asked where they were and found out that they were in a dresser. As soon as they were able to get into the house, they were in the dresser unharmed. The envelope was a little brown, but the tickets were okay! So we are all so happy to be able to attend the concert. And my favourite singer, Neil Diamond, came through the fire!