Album:The Neil Diamond Collection
Neil Diamond has success first as a songwriter and then as a recording artist in the late 60s. Sweet Caroline was Diamond's first big hit in 1969. It really put him on the map. He was born Jan. 24,1941 in Brooklyn, NY. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Europe. While attending summer camp, Pete Seeger performed and he inspired Diamond to get into music. And though he attended New York University on a fencing scholarship, he preferred hanging around the Brill Building getting tips from songwriters. Diamond's first recording contract was with Columbia in 1962, first as Neil and Jack with his high school pal Jack Parker and then as a solo artist. That went nowhere and he returned to the Brill Building. Diamond finally had success when his song Sunday and Me was a top 20 hit for Jay and the Americans in 1965. Then a breakthrough when several of his songs were recorded for The Monkees TV series. The biggest hit was I'm A Believer. Then he signed a record deal with Bert Berns' Bang Records. His first single Solitary Man charted and then Cherry, Cherry reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Those recordings were produced by legendary Brill Building songwriters Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. You might think he was on his way but Diamond didn't see eye to eye with Berns who just wanted him to record hits. Diamond got out of his contract and signed with MCA's UNI label in 1968. His second album for UNI was Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show in 1969. The title track was released as a single and it reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was produced in Memphis by veteran producers Chips Moman and Tommy Cogbill. Sweet Caroline was not on the album. But UNI decided to release it as a single. It reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it did well internationally. UNI reissued Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show with the title Sweet Caroline and a new cover. The album did well. But what it really did was set Diamond up for future success which came when Cracklin' Rosie topped the charts in 1970. Caroline in the song is Caroline Kennedy. Diamond said he wrote the song for his wife but he needed a three syllable name for the song. This comp covers Diamond's UNI years. He left UNI for Columbia in 1974 and he was one of the most successful stars of the 70s. He's been with Columbia for most of his career. But he recently moved to Capitol and released the 2014 CD Melody Road produced by Blue Note Records president Don Was. Neil Diamond was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2011. Here's Neil Diamond performing Sweet Caroline at the BBC 1971.