Veteran singer-songwriter notching up cracklin’ hits since the 1960s

Neil Diamond has been entertaining audiences for decades with his pop classics.

The American, who turns 77 on Wednesday, is to retire from touring after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, although he has assured fans that he plans to continue writing and recording music “for a long time to come”.

The veteran singer-songwriter is one of the world’s biggest-selling artists of all time, with more than 125 million records sold since the 1960s.

Neil Diamond in 1972 (PA)

Brooklyn-born Diamond started his music career at publisher Tin Pan Alley in New York, where he wrote songs after dropping out of a medical degree.

Some of his biggest early songwriting successes were The Monkees hits I’m A Believer and A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, and a litany of other artists went on to perform his tracks over the years, including Elvis Presley, Lulu and Deep Purple.

In 1966, he released his debut single as a recording artist, Solitary Man, followed by Cherry, Cherry, both of which appeared on his debut album, The Feel Of Neil Diamond.

A few years later, in 1969, he released Sweet Caroline, one of his most enduring and beloved songs.

Diamond’s other notable hits include his first number one in the US, Cracklin’ Rosie, and other 1970s anthems Song Sung Blue and Desiree.

His 1978 single You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, a duet with Barbra Streisand, is also regarded as one of his best.

While he has not managed to score a number one single in the UK among his plethora of top 10s, Diamond has topped the albums chart twice – first with his Greatest Hits collection in 1992, and in 2008 with Home Before Dark, his 27th studio album.

Neil Diamond at Glastonbury in 2008 (Yui Mok/PA)

A true showman, much of Diamond’s career has been dominated by touring, having played across the world and repeatedly topped lists of the most profitable performers when on the road.

According to Billboard, Diamond raked in some $450 million from touring between 1990 and 2014, having taken to the stage in front of nearly nine million fans across more than 600 shows.

In 2008, at the age of 67, Diamond was a headliner at the Glastonbury Festival, his debut at the rock music event.

He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2011, and will receive the lifetime achievement award at the Grammys this Sunday.

Diamond has been married three times, first to his long-time sweetheart Jaye Posner in 1963, with whom he had two daughters. They separated in 1967.

Diamond went on to marry Marcia Murphey in 1969 and they had two sons together before parting 25 years later.

In 2012, Diamond married his manager, Katie McNeil, who is almost 30 years younger than him.

 

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