December 9, 2019
The Wichita Beacon
November 22, 1967
Talented Diamond Has Many Facets
By Carol Dunlap
Neil Diamond on stage at the WSU Fieldhouse Tuesday night bore little resemblance to the timid teen-ager who used to write poetry to girls he lacked the courage to ask out face-to-face. But the tall, good-looking New Yorker insisted that’s how he started writing songs.
Apparently Neil was successful with what he termed “the practical type of poetry,” because “I guess the girls weren’t used to having poems written to them and they’d go out with me whether they really wanted to or not.”
When he added “fooling around with the piano” to his facility for verse, he was on his way to a career that made him a hit songwriter, a star performer and, perhaps, a movie actor.
In his first stop as a professional, Neil was signed by a music publishing company to write songs on an exclusive basis while he was still in high school. He was paid $50 a week
He eased into performing his own work gradually.
“I changed firms and finally reached a point where I wasn’t too happy with the way other people were doing my songs,” he explained.
Although his years as an increasingly prominent songwriter had taught him the way around the music business pretty well, he still made some of the mistakes many young performers do when they are just starting.
He said too many people try to get into the business who have no right being there–“relatives, candy store owners, you name it.”
Despite these problems, Neil has put out seven records and had seven hits–“you can’t get much luckier than that.”
In addition, a song he wrote for the Monkees, “I’m a Believer,” is on its way to 10-million sales which makes it bigger than anything either the Beatles or Elvis Presley have out.
Another Monkees hit, “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” which followed on the heels of “Believer,” was also a Diamond product.
Neil is getting ready now to take the next step–and it will be a giant one–in his performing career, into the movies.
“I’ve been to the coast a couple of times, and during the next few months we’ll probably complete arrangements to make my first film. It will either be done by Paramount or United Artists.”
Asked what the film will be, Neil said, “It will probably be the life of James Dean.” His role? “James Dean.”
That’s not exactly like starting at the bottom as an extra. James Dean was the hero to a whole generation of youthful rebels himself, so Neil’s role would have built-in appeal for several age groups.
However, he doesn’t want to abandon his music. Even if his movie career blossomed, he wouldn’t want to give it up.
“It’s very much a part of me,” he commented.
The one thing Neil, unlike many other popular young artists, doesn’t do is tour.
“I don’t like to perform more than two days a week. You can really drag yourself out that way,” he said. The hang-up, of course, is traveling. “It’s too tiring.”
He does share one attitude with most serious performers. He likes audiences that listen.
The 15,000 screaming fans thing can really give you the impression you’re hot stuff, but what they’re actually there to see is what you look like and hear the stuff you have on records,” he explained.
For that reason, Neil prefers performing at colleges or in the clubs. “They listen there,” he said.
Neil’s songwriting versatility is probably one factor that keeps him on the hit charts with such consistency.
Commenting on this aspect of his talent, he said, “Since I seem to be able to write different songs I like to try them” he said. “It wouldn’t get me very far if I just wrote the same song over with different words like some do.”
And apparently the fans agree.
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