Neil Diamond opens up about Parkinson’s diagnosis in a new interview: “I was in denial”

Neil Diamond is one of the most beloved and best-selling musicians of all time, with classic songs like “Sweet Caroline,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Cherry, Cherry,” and “Song Sung Blue.”

The singer-songwriter delighted audiences with live performances for decades — but his successful concert touring career came to an end in 2018, after Diamond was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

In a recent interview, the 82-year-old musician opened up about finally coming to terms with the disease.

Speaking with CBS Sunday Morning, Diamond revealed it took some time to process his Parkinson’s diagnosis.

“In a sense, I was in denial for the first year or two,” Diamond said. “When the doctor told me what it was, I was just not ready to accept it. I said, ‘Oh, okay. I’ll see you, you know, whenever you wanna see me. But I have work to do, so I’ll see you later.’”

In 2017, Diamond toured the United States and Europe as part of his 50th Anniversary tour. But in 2018, he announced he was canceling the upcoming Australia and New Zealand leg of the tour, saying Parkinson’s had made it too difficult to continue touring.

“It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring. I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years,” Diamond said in a press release at the time.

Diamond told CBS that it was “very hard” to give up touring, and it has taken him a lot of time and work to fully accept his diagnosis and retirement. But the musician said “in the last few weeks” he’s finally made peace with it.

“Somehow a calm has moved [into] the hurricane of my life, and things have gotten very quiet, as quiet as this recording studio,” Diamond said. “And I like it. I find that I like myself better. I’m easier on people, I’m easier on myself. And the beat goes on, and it will go on long after I’m gone.”

Though Neil Diamond is retired from performing, he remains very popular with fans around the world. A biographical stage musical about his life, A Beautiful Noise, is currently playing on Broadway, and Diamond called it “absolutely wonderful” and “a dream come true.”

“This show was part of my psychotherapy. And it hurt. I didn’t like looking at myself in many of the scenes,” he admitted to CBS.

Fans who attended the premiere of that show last year got a very special surprise: Diamond himself performed “Sweet Caroline” during the curtain call.

And in June 2022, Diamond performed “Sweet Caroline” at a Boston Red Sox game. The song is a nightly tradition at Fenway Park.

Though Parkinson’s has forced him to stop touring, it’s clear that Neil Diamond can still sing and is still happy to give his all in rare appearances — and audiences love it.

Parkinson’s disease is a very challenging diagnosis, but we’re happy to see that Neil Diamond has made peace with it.

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