Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Neil Diamond today announced his retirement from touring due to his recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Based on his doctors’ advice, the third leg of Diamond’s 50th Anniversary tour, scheduled for Australia and New Zealand in March, has been cancelled.
Diamond said in a statement that he plans to continue writing and recording. He will turn 77 on Jan. 24 and four days later will be honored at the Grammy Awards when the Recording Academy presents him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
“It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring,” he said. “I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years. My sincerest apologies to everyone who purchased tickets and were planning to come to the upcoming shows.
“I plan to remain active in writing, recording and other projects for a long time to come.
“My thanks go out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world. You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement. This ride has been ‘so good, so good, so good’ thanks to you.”
Diamond’s 50th anniversary tour launched in April and carried on for some 55 dates across North America and Europe (with just a month off between the two tour legs), wrapping Oct. 19 in London. Diamond has been a vibrant live performer and a formidable box-office draw for decades, not least because his love of performing is so apparent. At a Los Angeles show in August, he told the crowd: “My job is the greatest job in the world. I sing. You hear. You applaud. I sing louder. I go wherever the noise is.”
In making the announcement of the tour’s cancellation, Paul Dainty, president/CEO of tour promoter TEG Dainty, said, “I am devastated and saddened to hear the news of Neil’s illness and his retirement from touring. I have had the honor of promoting Neil’s numerous tours in Australia and New Zealand, he is one of the world’s greatest artists and we and his thousands and thousands of fans here will miss seeing him tour down under.”
Diamond’s most recent studio album, apart from a 2016 Christmas outing, was 2014’s “Melody Road,” which was entirely self-written and united him with an intriguing production team, Don Was (Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, latter-day Rolling Stones) and Jacknife Lee (U2, R.E.M.). The pair revived the lush arrangements of Diamond’s classic work from the late 1960s and 1970s yet kept the stripped-down and direct songwriting of the two albums he recorded with Rick Rubin in the 2000s, “12 Songs” and “Home Before Dark.”
At a time when most of his peers either phone in their new albums or have abandoned making them all together, Diamond’s latest find him still challenging himself, making music because he wants to, not because he has to.