Neil Leslie Diamond was born on January 24, 1941. His father was a shopkeeper, who also served in the military for a time. Diamond grew up in Brooklyn, except for a couple of years in Wyoming – the family had moved when his father was stationed there.
His interest in music began at an early age. He was part of the chorus at Erasmus Hall High School. Barbra Streisand was also part of the chorus at that time. At 16, he received his first guitar as a birthday gift and began song writing.
He formed a singing duo with Jack Packer, a friend of his younger brother, and the two released songs under the name Neil & Jack. He met little success with Neil & Jack and the duo soon broke up.
He attended New York University on a fencing scholarship as a pre-med student before leaving to pursue his song writing career. He penned several hits for other artists, including “I’m a Believer” for The Monkees. He also composed the score for the 1973 film Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Although the film did not garner much critical acclaim or box office success, it did earn Diamond a Grammy Award for “Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or TV Special.” He worked on the soundtracks for many films over the course of his career, including 1994’s Pulp Fiction.
His first album included the singles “Solitary Man” and “Cherry, Cherry” and led to appearances on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.” He also appeared on The Mike Douglas Show, The Merv Griffin Show, and in an episode of the show “Mannix.” He turned down many acting roles, preferring to work behind the scenes on soundtracks, or to appear as himself, which he did in the 1978 documentary The Last Waltz.
In 1970, at Hollywood’s Troubador nightclub, Diamond introduced Elton John – it was the British star’s first appearance on stage in the US. According to allmusic.com, “[E]arly in the 21st century, [Diamond] ranked third, behind only Elton John and Barbra Streisand, on the list of the most successful adult contemporary artists in the history of the Billboard chart.”
Diamond has been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame (1984) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2011). He has also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a Kennedy Center Honor.
In 2018, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and abruptly cancelled the final leg of his 50th Anniversary World Tour. He has been married three times and lives with his current wife in Colorado. Diamond has four children.
We here at Life 103.1 are pleased to include in our “Timeless Favorites” playlist a number of his most popular hits, songs that are indeed timeless in their appeal.
(allmusic.com, imdb.com, liveabout.com, biography.com)
One of the best-known vocal groups of all time, the Temptations are renowned for their harmonies and distinct choreography. The group began in 1961 with the merger of two other Motown groups, the Primes and the Distants. First known as the Elgins, the group changed their name to avoid conflict with another group already using the name and signed with Miracle Records.
The music of the Temptations is unmistakable. Their first big hit came in 1964 with “The Way You Do The Things You Do.” During the early years, Smokey Robinson wrote and produced their songs. When Robinson stepped aside, Norman Whitfield took over writing and production. Under his direction during the late ‘60s and into the ‘70s, the group shifted their signature sound from soul to more psychedelic funk. The Temptations have continued to endure, periodically updating their style to remain contemporary.
Still performing today, the group has changed over the years, losing and replacing members. Otis Williams, who rarely sang lead, is the only remaining member from the original lineup of the 1960s. He still performs with the group today. Some members embarked on solo careers, while others were dismissed or died.
In addition to creating their own music, the Temptations have influenced many other artists, the Motown Museum stating that “the Temptations’ influence on R&B and soul music has been compared by music experts to the impact the Beatles ha[d] on pop and rock.” The group has been featured in the music of other artists, including Rick James (“Standing on the Top” and “Superfreak”) and Rod Stewart (“The Motown Song”).
The Temptations have stars on both the Hollywood (1994) and Apollo Theatre (2019) Walks of Fame. They have won several Grammys, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. Their first Grammy, for Best R&B Performance in 1969, was the first ever Grammy for a Motown artist. In 1974, at the first American Music Awards, the Temptations were named Favorite R&B Vocal Group.
The Temptations have also been inducted into both the Rock and Roll (1989) and the Rhythm and Blues (2013) Halls of Fame. “My Girl” (1998) and “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” (1999) have both been added to the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2018, “My Girl” was also added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry. “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” and “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” were all included on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.”
Billboard Magazine has listed the Temptations as both the “# 1 R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of All Time” (2017) and one of “125 Greatest of All Time Artists” (2019). The Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame named the Temptations as the “R&B Male Group of the 20th Century” (2017). And Rolling Stone Magazine listed their 1973 album Anthology as one of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” in both 2003 and 2012. The Broadway musical also recently won a Tony Award for best choreography in 2019.
The Temptations have lasted for more than sixty years and show no signs of slowing down. We here at Life 103.1 are pleased to include in our “Timeless Favorites” playlist a number of their most popular hits, songs that are indeed timeless in their appeal.
(allmusic.com, rollingstone.com, motownmuseum.org, temptationsofficial.com, classic.motown.com, walkoffame.com)
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