Jan. 22, 2018: Neil Diamond Retires from Touring Due to Parkinson’s

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Neil Diamond (photo from his Facebook page)

One of the most legendary singer-songwriters and overall entertainers of the past half-century, Neil Diamond, announced on January 22, 2018, that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The then-76-year-old performer canceled the third leg of his 50th Anniversary tour, scheduled to take place in Australia and New Zealand in March 2018.

“It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring,” Diamond said in a statement posted to his website. “I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years. My sincerest apologies to everyone who purchased tickets and were planning to come to the upcoming shows. I plan to remain active in writing, recording and other projects for a long time to come.”

Diamond added, “My thanks goes out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world. You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement. This ride has been ‘so good, so good, so good’ thanks to you.”

Photo: Andreas Terlaak; used with permission

In 2017, Diamond released a 3-CD career summation, Neil Diamond 50 – The 50th Anniversary Collection, including 50 hand-picked tracks from throughout his career.

On Jan. 9, two weeks before the surprise retirement announcement, the Recording Academy revealed that Diamond was being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. (See our story here.)

Diamond first came to renown as a songwriter, writing early hits for The Monkees (“I’m a Believer” and “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” among others) and Jay and the Americans (“Sunday and Me”).

Since then, his compositions have also been covered by Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash (“Solitary Man”), among hundreds of others. Deep Purple covered his “Kentucky Woman.” UB40’s version of his “Red, Red Wine” topped the charts in both the U.S. and U.K.

Related: The story behind UB40’s #1 cover of “Red, Red Wine”

Watch Neil Diamond sing “Holly Holy” on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1969

Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984. He is a recipient of the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the highest honors bestowed upon songwriters. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

One of his best-loved songs, “Sweet Caroline,” which he revealed in 20_ was inspired by Caroline Kennedy, has been an 8th inning staple at Fenway Park for Boston Red Sox games with the crowd joining in to sing “So good… so good… so good.” Diamond performed it there on an emotional day in April 2013… the first Sox home game since the Boston Marathon bombing.

Watch Diamond sing the same song in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, weeks before the surprise news

Related: Diamond made a surprise appearance in 2020

Diamond has achieved 37 Top 40 singles including “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “I Am… I Said” and “Cherry Cherry,” as well as 16 Top 10 albums. Diamond’s many other achievements include a Golden Globe Award, ASCAP Film and Television Award, Billboard Icon Award, NARAS’s MusiCares Person of the Year award in 2009 and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2011, Diamond received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor for his lifetime of contributions to American culture. Only the Grammy voters have slighted him, awarding him a solitary one among his 10 nominations.

Watch Diamond perform at The Band’s farewell concert, The Last Waltz

Related: Diamond surprised the opening night audience at his Broadway musical, A Beautiful Noise

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

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  1. Woody
    #1 Woody 22 January, 2018, 23:33

    Neil Diamond is a very nice guy, who was very kind to me when I met him while I was a part of the SuperDiamond troup !!!!
    As long as I’m Still around Neil, people will love your songs live !!!!
    Your Longtime Friend,

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  2. Jack
    #2 Jack 23 January, 2018, 01:21

    I’m very sorry to hear this, i’m not a big ND fan, I used to work at an arena where he performed several times. I must say, there are very few performers that give as much to an audience as he did, and he was rewarded with an amazing string of consecutive “sold out” shows that spanned over many, many tours. I do have one interesting fact I learned about ND, while working his shows.

    During his shows fans who have brought flowers are allowed to approach the stage and present flowers to him while he is singing. After the shows he would not leave the building until he went back to the dressing room and personally signed thank you cards that were mailed to those fans that included an address with their gift of flowers. I always thought that was an extremely cool and classy thing to do. He will be sorely missed by his fans.

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