Neil Leslie Diamond is an American singer-songwriter, musician and actor. One of the worlds best-selling artists of all time, he has sold over 120 million records worldwide since the start of his career in the 1960s. With 38 songs in the Top 10, he is the second most successful artist in the history of the Billboard Adult Contemporary Top 10 charts and his songs have been covered internationally by many performers from a variety of musical genres. Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock, additionally, he received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and in 2011 was an honoree at Kennedy Center. On the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts, he has had eleven No, Sweet Caroline is played frequently at sporting events, and has become an anthem for the Boston Red Sox. Diamond was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a Jewish family descended from Russian and his parents were Rose and Akeeba Kieve Diamond, a dry-goods merchant. He grew up in homes in Brooklyn, having also spent four years in Cheyenne, Wyoming. In Brooklyn he attended Erasmus Hall High School and was a member of the Freshman Chorus and they were not close friends at the time, Diamond recalls, We were two poor kids in Brooklyn. We hung out in the front of Erasmus High and smoked cigarettes, after his family moved he then attended Abraham Lincoln High School, and was a member of the fencing team. For his 16th birthday, he received his first guitar, and the next thing, I got a guitar when we got back to Brooklyn, started to take lessons and almost immediately began to write songs, he said. He adds that his attraction to songwriting was the first real interest he had growing up, Diamond also used his newly-developing skill at writing lyrics to write poetry. By writing poems for girls he was attracted to in school and his male classmates took note and began asking him to write poems for them which they would sing and use with equal success. He spent the following his graduation as a waiter in the Catskills resort area. There he first met Jaye Posner, who would, years later, Diamond next attended New York University as a pre-med major on a fencing scholarship. His skill at fencing made him a member of the 1960 NCAA mens championship team, however, he was often bored in classes, and found writing song lyrics more to his liking. He began cutting classes and taking the train up to Tin Pan Alley where he tried to get some of his songs heard by music publishers. By his senior year, and just 10 units short of graduation, Sunbeam Music Publishing offered him a 16-week job writing songs for $50 a week, and he dropped out of college to accept it. After his 16 weeks at Sunbeam Music were up, he was not rehired, I never really chose songwriting, he says
Diamond in August 2012
Diamond performing on opening night of the Theater For the Performing Arts at the Aladdin Hotel & Casino, on July 2, 1976.