Photo Credit: Alan Topping / Wikimedia
Neil Diamond performing at the Roundhouse in London, Oct. 30 2010

One of the world’s finest Top 40 singer-songwriters has announced his immediate retirement and is being forced to truly become ‘A Solitary Man’ — the name of his first-ever hit — after having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Brooklyn native Neil Diamond said in a statement that he made the decision with “great reluctance and disappointment.

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“I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years,” said Diamond, who turns 77 on Wednesday. “My sincerest apologies to everyone who purchased tickets and were planning to come to the upcoming shows.

“My thanks goes out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world,” he said. “You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement.”

And from his hit song ‘Sweet Caroline’ he signed off, “This ride has been ‘so good, so good, so good,’ thanks to you.”

Neil Leslie Diamond was born in 1941 to Rose Rapaport and Akiva (Kieve) Diamond, Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants to Brooklyn, where he attended Erasmus and then Lincoln High Schools. He received his first guitar at age 16.

But it was while attending New York University as a pre-med major on a fencing scholarship that he firsts began to seriously write songs, primarily to relieve his boredom in class. Two years later he was recording.

A massively popular American vocalist, Neil Diamond has sold more than 130 million albums worldwide, with 38 singles having made it to the Top 40, according to the Recording Academy.

He had already performed 55 of the shows on his 50th anniversary tour, with packed arenas from one end of North America to the other and across Europe, when he received the diagnosis.

Paul Dainty, head of tour promotion company TEG Dainty, said in making the cancellation announcement that he was “devastated and saddened to hear the news of Neil’s illness and his retirement from touring,” Variety reported. “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 is a 2011 inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, in addition to the award that he won. He’ll be honored again with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys this coming Sunday.

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