Neil Leslie Diamond was born in Brooklyn New York in 1941. He was the oldest son and went to the same as Barbra Streisand and they both sang in the same choir. He got his first guitar on his 16th birthday and was motivated to sing and write songs after seeing Pete Seeger perform at a school camp. He intended to become a doctor and registered as a pre med student at New York University but found himself distracted with song writing. Neil formed a duo with Jack Packer (Everly Brothers style), and they signed a contract with Duel Records in 1960. His first efforts were unsuccessful and the partnership soon dissolved. He continued to pursue a career as a song writer and worked for several companies including Dot Records where he formed part of a team that wrote “Ten lonely guys” the follow up to Pat Boone's "Speedy Gonzales."
Neil was credited under the pseudonym Mark Lewis. Neil seriously gave thought to changing his name to Noah Kaminsky, or Eice Chary, but fortunately stuck with his birth name instead. Neil Diamond’s first solo endeavor came in 1963 with "Clown Town"/"At Night," the record flopped and Neil was dropped by the label.
In 1965, Cliff Richard recorded Neil’s "Just Another Guy" which became the B side of "The Minute You're Gone."
In the same year Neil became friendly with writers and producers, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, who signed him to songwriter/producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's Trio Music publishing company. Jay & the Americans, recorded "Sunday and Me," which became a hit.
The following year Neil released "Solitary Man," which appeared in the lower end of the US charts. “Cherry Cherry” followed and went to number six.
Neil was invited by Don Kirshner to write for the Monkees and they recorded “I’m a believer” which was song intended for his forth coming debut album. The Monkees version rocketed to number one, where it stayed seven weeks, becoming the biggest single of 1967.
Neil’s next solo release was "I Got the Feelin' (Oh No No)," with the B side, "The Boat That I Row," which Lulu covered and her version became a Top Ten U.K. hit.
Other hits followed both for Neil and his compositions. "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You," was a hit for the Monkees, and Neil had solo success with "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon," "Thank the Lord for the Night Time," and "Kentucky Woman."
Neil parted company with his record company due to artistic differences and became embroiled in a legal mine field which last into the mid 70s. The company continued to regularly release Neil Diamond works but the singer song writer felt these did not represent his contemporary style. He signed a five-year contract with Uni Records in 1968 but sadly the momentum of hits slowed until 1970 with the release of "Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good) and "Cracklin' Rosie" which became his biggest hit.
His live album Gold was a major commercial success and established the performer as a bona fide concert attraction and throughout the 70s Neil became a live act, filling s theatres and arenas across the States. In 1971 he released "I Am...I Said," which became a major hit, followed by “Stones,” from his album. "Song Sung Blue," went to number one in 1972 and was followed by "Play Me" later that year.
The double-LP set Hot August Night, cemented his status as a concert attraction and ascension to superstar status.
Neil stepped back and took a rest before returning on a new label with a song score for the film version of Jonathan Livingston Seagull in 1973. "Longfellow Serenade,” (1974) was his biggest hit since "Song Sung Blue," peaking at number five on the Hot 100.
Neil toured Australia (Neil Diamond is a fan of Australian Rules Football team the Brisbane Lions), and New Zealand in 1975, before releasing Beautiful Noise album, the single "Beautiful Noise" hit the charts in 1976 and more live performances followed.
By the end of the decade “You Don't Bring Me Flowers" was a hit followed by “Forever in Blue Jeans" (co-written by Richard Bennett).
Neil starred in the remake of The Jazz Singer which was not a great success but the soundtrack was and "Love on the Rocks" (co-written with Bécaud) was another hit and “Hello Again" (co-written by Alan Lindgren) with "America" following in similar mode.
He began to collaborate without songwriters and in an endeavor to have fresh material for his hugely popular live concerts rerecorded many standards. His record sales declined after the 1980s, but he continued to tour successfully, and maintains a very loyal following until the present day. Neil Diamond's songs have been recorded by a vast array of performers from many different musical genres across Europe ever since.
Worth a listen:
Solitary Man (1966)
Cherry, Cherry (1966)
Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon (1967)
Kentucky Woman (1967)
Red, Red Wine (1968)
Sweet Caroline (1970)
Cracklin' Rosie (1970)
I am I said (1971)
Song Sung Blue (1974)
Longfellow Serenade (1974)
Love on the Rocks (1980)
I'm a Believer (1967)
The boat that I row (1967)
Jimmy James & the Vagabonds
Red red wine (1968).
I’m a Believer (1974)
Red, Red Wine (1983)