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Singer and songwriter Neil Diamond wrote "I'm A Believer" for The Monkees, and peformed his own pop hits, including "Heartlight" and "Sweet Caroline."
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Born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 24, 1941, Neil Diamond began writing songs while studying at New York University. His own hits include "Sweet Caroline," "America" and "Heartlight." He also wrote "I'm A Believer" performed by The Monkees, and his song "Red, Red Wine" was a big hit for band UB40 in 1983. Diamond's recent albums include 12 Songs (2005) and Home Before Dark (2008).
"I've never tried to be what I'm not. I am what I am: raggedy, over-the-top, heartfelt, emotional, reflective, passionate, angry and sad at times."
"I'm a 'people pleaser'—I think most performers are, and when I'm in front of an audience I'll try to make those folks happy any which way I can."
Born on January 24, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York, Neil Leslie Diamond was is best known as a successful pop music singer who scored a number of hits during the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Diamond wrote the hits "I'm A Believer" (1966) and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" (1967) for the Monkees, and had his own first No. 1 hit with "Cracklin' Rose" (1970).
The son of a shop owner, Diamond spent most of his youth in Brooklyn. He did live in Wyoming for a time while his father served in the military. Diamond got his first guitar at age 16. Before long, he began writing his own songs. Diamond landed a fencing scholarship to New York University. While a premed student at the university, he continued to pursue his interest in music. In the early 1960s, Diamond released his first single, "What Will I Do," which he recorded with Jack Packer. The duo released the song under the name "Neil & Jack."
Eventually dropping out of college, Neil Diamond worked as a song writer for several companies. He joined forces with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, two talented songwriters and producers. The trio began to market Diamond as both a singer and songwriter. Diamond had his first taste of pop success with the 1966 single "Solitary Man." That same year, he penned the Monkees' No. 1 hit "I'm a Believer."
Diamond continued to score hits on his own over the next few years, including "Cherry, Cherry" and "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon." His popular 1969 single, "Sweet Caroline," was reportedly inspired by Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy. The song made it into the Billboard Top 5. That same year, Diamond's "Holly Holy" reached the No. 6 spot on the pop charts.
In 1970, Neil Diamond scored his first solo No. 1 pop single with "Crackin' Rosie." He hit the top of the charts again with "Song Sung Blue" two years later. Also in 1972, Diamond released the hugely popular Hot August Night, which was recorded at a series of concerts he did at Los Angeles' Greek Theatre. He also composed the soundtrack for the 1973 film Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, based on the Richard Bach book. While the movie was a flop at the box office, the soundtrack earned Diamond a Grammy Award.
Diamond scored another big hit with "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," his 1978 duet with Barbra Streisand. In 1980, he tried for success on the big screen with his remake of The Jazz Singer. Critics were less than kind regarding his efforts, but the film's soundtrack featured such hits as "Love on the Rocks" and "America." The Jazz Singer album sold more than 5 million copies.
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