Singer Neil Diamond received the 2,475th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame over the weekend, putting the honor "right at the top" of all that he has received during a nearly five-decade career — along with riding on a float Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
"This is probably the most fun," Diamond told City News Service after the late-morning ceremony in front of the Capitol Records building on Vine Street. "I didn't have to campaign for it. They wanted me. They opened their arms and took me in and that makes it all the better."
The ceremony came one day before Diamond begins a series of five concerts at the Greek Theatre in a 15-day span, promising "things you've never seen before."
The ceremony also came two weeks before the 40th anniversary of the start of a 10-night series of sold-out concerts at the Greek Theatre immortalized in the two-record set "Hot August Night."
A 40th-anniversary deluxe edition of "Hot August Night" was released July 31 with three previously unreleased recordings, including "I Think It's Going to Rain Today," which was written by Randy Newman, along with all his stage banter and band introductions.
Diamond has sold more than 125 million albums worldwide, had 56 songs on Billboard's Hot 100, including 37 top 10 singles, and 16 top 10 albums. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
Another Southern California milestone in Diamond's career was a series of 10 consecutive sold-out concerts at the Forum in 1989, the longest streak in the arena's history.
"He is one of those people, rare in entertainment, who America loves," Newman said at the ceremony. "There have been less than 10 in the century, people like Bing Crosby and Judy Garland."
Diamond was born Jan. 24, 1941, in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he attended Abraham Lincoln High School and sang in the school choir with future duet partner Barbra Streisand.
Following graduation from high school, Diamond received a fencing scholarship from New York University, where he was a pre-med student, seeking to become a laboratory biologist who would try to discover the cure for cancer.
Diamond dropped out of college just six months short of graduation to write songs for $50 a week for Sunbeam Music.
Following a yearlong stint writing for the famed songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, when he wrote what he called "maybe half a dozen mediocre songs," Diamond joined songwriters Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry in forming the publishing company Tallyrand Music to own the copyrights to his songs and pursue a record deal as a recording artist.
Diamond was signed by Atlantic Records' Bang Records label, starting a series of hits that began in 1966 with "Solitary Man," which would forever define his persona as a singular figure in music.
His success spanned decades with such songs as "Cherry, Cherry" (1966); "Thank the Lord for the Night Time" (1967); "Kentucky Woman" (1967); "Sweet Caroline" (1969); "Song Sung Blue" (1972); "Beautiful Noise" (1976); "You Don't Bring Me Flowers (1977); "September Morn" (1979); "Love on the Rocks" (1981); "Hello Again" (1981); "America" (1981); and "Heartlight" (1982).
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