Neil Diamond – Entertainer, Singer, Songwriter

320px-Neil_Diamond_2

Neil Leslie Diamond was born on January 24, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. He received his high school diploma from Abraham Lincoln High School and later attended New York University on a fencing scholarship.

He had aspirations of pursuing a life in medicine, specifically as a laboratory biologist. However, during his senior year at NYU a music publishing company offered to pay him $50 per week to write songs. That was his beginning.

Neil Diamond and his high school friend, Jack Parker, signed a contract and were billed as “Neil and Jack”. They recorded two songs: “You Are My Love At Last” b/w “What Will I Do” and “I’m Afraid” b/w “Till You’ve Tried Love”.They were released in 1962 without much success.

Later in 1962 , he signed a solo contract with Columbia Records. After one unsuccessful release in 1963, Columbia dropped him from the label.

Diamond returned to songwriting and finally had his first success in November of 1965, with “Sunday and Me”. It was a Top 20 hit for Jay and The Americans.

He achieved greater recognition as a songwriter with “I’m a Believer”, “A little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”, “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)”, and “Love to Love”, all performed by The Monkees. Diamond had written and recorded them for himself, but the cover versions were released before his own. This was a real stroke of luck for Neil, as he realized notoriety as a songwriter in addition to a singer and performer.
“I’m a Believer” was the Popular Song of the Year in 1966.

Diamond released “Solitary Man” in 1966 on Atlantic Records, his first on that label. He later recorded “Cherry, Cherry”, “Kentucky Woman”, “Thank The Lord for the Night Time”, and others on the same label.

Neil became unhappy in his situation. He wanted to produce more aspiring, reflective music, such as “Brooklyn Roads”, which he recorded in 1968. He found a loophole in his contract, but it took until 1977 and a great deal of litigation to secure the masters of his recordings under this label.

“Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” was released in February of 1969, under a new label, which would become MCA Records. His music became more melodious with songs like “Sweet Caroline” (1969), “Holly Holy” (1969), “Cracklin’ Rosie” (1970) and “Song Sung Blue” (1972). “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “Song Sung Blue” reached #1 on the Hot 100.

In 1971, Neil released “I am…I Said”. It was a Top 5 hit in the United States and in the United Kingdom. It was the most difficult song he had written to that date, taking over four months to finish.

On August 24, 1972 Diamond played to a sold out crowd at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. This concert was recorded and released as a live double album. Hot August Night has become a classic. Many consider it to be Neil Diamond’s best work.

In 1973, Neil released a solo album, which was the soundtrack to the film Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The critics bombed the film and the public didn’t care too much for it either.  Actually, the album grossed more than the movie. The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard Album Charts. He received a “Golden Globe Award” for “Best Original Score” and a “Grammy Award” for “Best Score for a Motion Picture”.

“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” a Diamond/Streisand duet was recorded and hit #1 in 1978.

The Jazz Singer (a 1980 movie) soundtrack produced three Top 10 singles for Diamond: Love on the Rocks”, “Hello Again” and “America”. Neil Diamond became the first ever winner of a “Worst Actor Razzie Award”, even though he was nominated for a “Golden Globe Award” for the same role.

“Heartlight” was another Top 10 from Neil Diamond. Universal Pictures briefly threatened legal action for the inference to E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial. The litigation was withdrawn however, since the title character was never named in the lyrics to the song.

Through the 1980′s , Diamond’s record sales declined, but his concert tours were very successful.

During the 1990′s, he produced six studio albums, including two Christmas albums. The first Christmas album peaked at #8 on the Billboard Album Charts.

Neil Diamond has had over twenty albums on the Billboard Top 40 Album Charts, and ten #1 singles on the Billboard Top Pop Singles Charts. He continues with his songwriting, recording, and releasing new material. He also maintains a widespread touring schedule.

Source: Wikipedia120px-Neil_Diamond_2

 

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