BORN: January 24, 1941, Brooklyn, NY
Neil Diamond built a career, first as a pop songwriter, and then as a pop
singer, that has withstood the changing fashions of music, especially rock,
over more than 25 years. Born in Brooklyn, Diamond was writing and recording
in New York in his teens, though he graduated from Brooklyn's Abraham Lincoln
High School and attended New York University for a time. In 1965, he signed
to Bang Records as an artist while also working as a songwriter. In 1966,
he reached the Top Ten with his "Cherry, Cherry," while the Monkees took
his "I'm a Believer" to #1. "Cherry, Cherry" was the first of five straight
Top 20 hits, among them "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon."
Diamond began to develop into more of an individual writer in the mold of
Bob Dylan and Paul Simon in the late '60s, and this led to his move to Uni
Records in 1968, where he continued to score hits like "Sweet Caroline,"
"Holly Holy," and "Cracklin' Rosie," in a pop/rock style laced with gospel
and country influences. His albums also began to go gold consistently beginning
with 1969's Touching You, Touching Me.
Diamond signed a lucrative contract with Columbia Records in 1973 that began
with his soundtrack to the film Jonathan Livingston Seagull. His 1976 album,
Beautiful Noise, was produced by Robbie Robertson of the Band; it was his
first album to go platinum. In 1980, Diamond starred in a remake of the film
The Jazz Singer. Its soundtrack was another million-seller for him.
Diamond had developed into a dynamic live performer over the years, and his
concert recordings were among his most successful. In the late '80s and early
'90s, while updating his sound, he faded from the singles charts though his
albums continued to sell consistently. And his shows continued to sell out:
According to Amusement Business, he was the top concert draw in the U.S.
for the first six months of 1992.
In early 1996, Diamond released Tennessee Moon, a country music album that
was his first set of newly written material in five years. Tennessee Moon
became a hit on the country charts, peaking at number three and going gold
within six months of its release. As Time Goes By: The Movie Album followed
in 1998. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide