Shalom Life | July 25, 2014

Jewish Hall Of Fame: Neil Diamond

The Grammy-award winning singer is the third most successful adult contemporary artist on the Billboard charts behind Barbra Streisand and Elton John

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: July 23rd, 2014 in Culture » Music » News

Jewish Hall Of Fame: Neil Diamond

Since the dawn of time, Jewish people have contributed greatly to various fields, from sports to entertainment to politics to porn. With our Breakthrough Jew feature, we recognize those who are up and comers in these various industries, identifying those great innovators and leaders in the contemporary world who are making a mark on society that will last a lifetime.

With the Jewish Hall of Fame, we recognize the remarkable advancements members of our community have made on today's society. These are people who have truly changed the world, and have earned the respect and praise of the members of today's younger generation.

ShalomLife’s Jewish Hall of Fame is our ongoing tribute to the greatest Jews who have ever lived; be sure to catch us weekly with our latest inductees, and tweet us @ShalomLife wih your suggestions.

Check out last week's inductee into the Hall of Fame here.

Hall of Fame Member: Neil Leslie Diamond

Born: January 24th, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 24th, 1941, Neil Leslie Diamond’s parents, store owners and descendants of Polish and Russian Jewish immigrants, never knew their son was destined for stardom. The young Diamond spent much of his time growing up in Brooklyn, however his family up and moved to Wyoming while his father served in the military for a time.

He attended Abraham Lincoln High School where he began to forge his love of fencing and passion for music. During his secondary studies, Diamond was on the school’s fencing team and received a fencing scholarship to New York University. He also, during this time, received his first guitar at the age of 16 by his father and began writing music.

While at university, Diamond played for the 1960’s NCAA men’s fencing championship team, specializing in saber. Although Diamond has publicly expressed his childhood desire to be a scientist, it was ultimately his love of music that won out over scholarly intentions. That same year, Diamond released his first single which was recorded with Jack Packer, a high school friend, entitled “What Will I Do.” The duo went by the name Neil & Jack. It was during this time that Diamond dropped out of school to take a contract writing music for $50 a week.

In 1963, Diamond married Jaye Posner with whom he had two children. However the couple separated for good in 1969, which would mark the beginning of his serious musical success.

Unfortunately, despite Neil & Jack’s ambition, the duo didn’t fare all that well together. After they disbanded, Diamond began to work under the guidance of both Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, who began to market both his skills in writing and performing. Come 1966, Diamond had some success with the launch of his song “Solitary Man” while also being acclaimed for his writing of the song “I’m A Believer,” which was made famous by the Monkeys.


After finding some success, Diamond continued to produce and create music on his own. His big break into fame came in 1969 when “Sweet Caroline” made it onto the Billboard Top 5, and “Holly Holy” reached the 6th spot on pop charts. It wasn’t until the following year, 1970, that Diamond would hit no.1 on the charts with “Crackin’ Rosie.”

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