Renowned as one of the most cherished and best-selling musicians in history, Neil Diamond, with iconic hits like “Sweet Caroline,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Cherry, Cherry,” and “Song Sung Blue,” thrilled audiences with live performances for decades. However, his successful concert touring career came to an end in 2018 when Diamond was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
In a recent interview with CBS Sunday Morning, the 82-year-old musician candidly discussed his journey to accepting the disease. Reflecting on the diagnosis, Diamond revealed, “In a sense, I was in denial for the first year or two… I said, ‘Oh, okay. I’ll see you, you know, whenever you wanna see me. But I have work to do, so I’ll see you later.'”
Having toured extensively in 2017 as part of his 50th Anniversary tour, Diamond made the difficult decision in 2018 to cancel the Australia and New Zealand leg, citing Parkinson’s as the reason. In a press release, he expressed, “It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring.”
Admitting that giving up touring was “very hard,” Diamond shared with CBS that it took considerable time and effort to fully embrace his diagnosis and retirement. Yet, he noted that “in the last few weeks,” he has finally found peace with it.
“Somehow a calm has moved [into] the hurricane of my life, and things have gotten very quiet, as quiet as this recording studio,” Diamond said. “And I like it. I find that I like myself better. I’m easier on people, I’m easier on myself. And the beat goes on, and it will go on long after I’m gone.”
Although retired from performing, Diamond remains popular worldwide. A biographical stage musical about his life, A Beautiful Noise, currently running on Broadway, is described by Diamond as “absolutely wonderful” and “a dream come true.”
Regarding the show, he admitted to CBS, “This show was part of my psychotherapy. And it hurt. I didn’t like looking at myself in many of the scenes.” Fans at the premiere were treated to a surprise when Diamond himself performed “Sweet Caroline” during the curtain call.
In June 2022, Diamond made a rare appearance at a Boston Red Sox game, continuing the tradition of singing “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway Park. Despite Parkinson’s ending his touring, Neil Diamond’s ability to captivate audiences endures in occasional appearances, with fans still reveling in the joy of his performances.