Sweet Caroline and Holly Holy, Neil Diamond is 70!
The veteran singer/songwriter, who penned many of the pop anthems of the last century, celebrates a big birthday on Monday (24Jan11).
The celebration comes as Diamond prepares to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in March (11) and caps 50 years in showbusiness.
To mark the crooner's birthday, WENN trawled through his history to find 10 fascinating facts about the man who was The Jazz Singer!
Happy birthday Mr. Diamond...
- he attended Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York, where he sang in the All City Choir with Barbra Streisand. The pair went on to record heartache ballad You Don't Bring Me Flowers.
- a longtime back pain sufferer, he had a tumour surgically removed from his spine just before he started shooting The Jazz Singer in 1979.
- he won a fencing scholarship to New York University and was a member of the 1960 NCAA men's championship team.
- artists who have recorded Neil Diamond songs include Elvis Presley, Deep Purple, Lulu, Cliff Richard, The Monkees, UB40, Johnny Cash and Smash Mouth.
- John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline was the inspiration for his hit Sweet Caroline. Diamond revealed he wrote the anthem after seeing her on the cover of Life Magazine in an equestrian riding outfit.
- Sweet Caroline is played during the 8th inning at every Boston Red Sox home game - even though Diamond is a lifelong fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The song is also played during the 8th inning of every New York Mets home game and at Washington Nationals home games. Ice hockey team the New York Rangers have also adapted it as their own, and play it when they are winning at the end of the 3rd period.
- Diamond became the first-ever winner of a Worst Actor Golden Raspberry Award in 1980 for The Jazz Singer. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the same role.
- Famous for wearing colourful, sequin-adorned shirts in concert, Diamond claims he first came up with the idea so everyone in the audience could see him without the aid of binoculars. The Bill Whitten-designed and made shirts cost approximately US$5,000 each. Whitten designed and made the shirts for Diamond from the 1970s until 2007.
- among his many accolades, the Grammy Award winner and 12-time nominee is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the highest honours bestowed upon songwriters. He was the MusiCares Person of the Year in 2009.
- Diamond has sold more than 128 million records worldwide.