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Neil Leslie Diamond (born January 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter and occasional actor.
From the 1960s to the 1980s, Diamond was one of the more successful pop music performers, scoring a number of hits in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. As critic William Ruhlmann writes, "as of 2001, he claimed worldwide record sales of 115 million copies, and as of 2002 he was 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." As of May 2005 he has sold 120 million records worldwide, including 48 million records in the U.S.
Though his record sales declined somewhat after the 1980s, Diamond continues to tour successfully, and maintains a very loyal following. Diamond's songs have been recorded by a vast array of performers from many different musical genres.
Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984, and then in 2000 was given its Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been eligible for induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame since 1989, but has thus far been ignored.
The 1990s and 2000s saw a resurgence in Diamond's popularity. His song "America" was a theme song for Michael Dukakis's 1988 Presidential campaign, and later used in promotional advertisements for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. "Sweet Caroline" is a popular sing-along at sporting events, most notably being the theme song for the Red Sox Nation (even thought Neil Diamond frequently describes himself as a life long "Yankee fan" during concerts) and at Boston College Football and Basketball games; is sung during the 8th inning of every Mets home game at Shea Stadium, and Washington Nationals games.
The New York Rangers also have adopted it as their own and play in when they are winning at the end of the 3rd period. Urge Overkill recorded a memorable version of Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" for Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, released in 1994. In the 2001 comedy film Saving Silverman the main characters play in a Neil Diamond cover band, and Diamond made an extended cameo appearance as himself. During this period, Will Ferrell did a recurring impersonation of Neil on Saturday Night Live, with Diamond himself appearing alongside Ferrell on his final show as a Not Ready For Prime Time Player in May 2002.
The Finnish band HIM covered "Solitary Man" on their album And Love Said No: The Greatest Hits 1997-2004. Other notable artists who have covered Neil Diamond songs are Elvis Presley, who interpreted "Sweet Caroline" and "And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind," the musical team Deep Purple, which interpreted "Kentucky Woman," Lulu, who covered "The Boat That I Row," Cliff Richard, who released versions of "I'll Come Running," "Solitary Man" "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" and "I Got The Feelin' (Oh No, No,)" UB40, whose version of "Red Red Wine", like the Monkees's version of "I'm a Believer", became, as previously noted, better known than Diamond's original, and T. G. Sheppard and Johnny Cash, who each covered "Solitary Man." Despite Diamond's Jewish faith, he he has released a number of Christmas albums.