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Diamond, Neil (24th January 1941-Present)

He is a singer-songwriter and actor born in New York City, growing up in Brooklyn, New York where his father had a dry goods store.  He studied at the Abraham Lincoln High School and Erasmus Hall and here we would sing with the then “Barbara” Streisand in the school choir.  Here he would also begin fencing and he was awarded a scholarship in it for the New York University.

It was not until he was 16 years old that he began to learn the guitar after he had been given one for his birthday but after becoming inspired by Pete Seeger and dropping out of New York University after less than a year to follow his love of music he was soon on his way to a musical career when he became a half of the duo Neil and Jack with his friend Jack Parker.

In 1960 they were awarded a recording contract and recorded the unsuccessful “What Will I Do” so after a couple of years he decided to go his own way and signed for a solo contract with Columbia Records in 1962.  His single “At Night” never made the charts despite promoting it on a radio tour so he was dropped.

Dropping out of the scene he turned to his songwriting and after being employed at the Brill Building he began to see success with songs initially written for himself but recorded first by The Monkees such as “Little Bit of Me, A Little Bit of You”,and “I’m a Believer” which ended up the 1966 Popular Music Song of the Year.

On the heels of these songwriting successes Bang Records signed him up and with them he achieved his first chart hit as a singer with “Solitary Man”, followed closely by “Kentucky Woman” and then many others. Often his producer, the songwriter Jeff Barry who wrote many of the hits for The Archies did the backing vocals for him, as did the songwriter Ellie Greenwich.

He would later relocate to MCA’s Uni Records in California in 1970 after a long and drawn out series of lawsuits with Bang, and with them he released perhaps some of his most successful songs such as “Cracklin’ Rosie”, “Song Sung Blue” and “Sweet Caroline” which was written for Caroline Kennedy.  He threw himself into touring and has since appeared in countless sold-out concerts throughout the world.

Going back to Columbia Records he would continue his successful chart hits with “Beautiful Noise” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” with Barbra Streisand.

Working with a myriad of popular artists throughout the course of more than five decade career and writing countless hit songs recorded by others, he has personally appeared and/or recorded with artists and groups that include Barbra Streisand, The Who, The Band, Herman’s Hermits, Henry Winkler, Brian Wilson and Helen Reddy.

Venturing into the field of acting he has been seen as the lead in The Jazz Singer which spawned yet another successful album and also appeared as himself in the comedy Saving Silverman in 2001.

His numerous albums and singles have achieved sales of more than 135 million worldwide with at least 48 million in the United States alone and in recognition of his massive achievements in the world of music he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984, received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

His charitable work saw him co-launching the Hands Up Project of Artists for Life in Australia in 1992 and it has since raised many valuable funds for charities the world over.

Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius recordings
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (Neil Diamond/Marilyn Bergman/Alan Bergman)