John Pitman (before Woburn)

John Pitman (before Woburn)

Announcer:
… Presley and Sinatra, opens in London, and later goes to Woburn Abbey for an open-air concert. It’s Diamond’s first European tour since 1972, when at the height of his career he dropped out of the pop scene for four years because he felt that the pressures were too great for him to carry on. He’s been talking to John Pitman.

ND:
When I first stopped I thought that I might never come back and perform, I’d just write some music and do some recording. But I suppose there was a need inside of me also to express myself in front of an audience, it’s one of my great joys and one of the most exciting things I do in my life.

It was never one of my goals, as a matter of fact I think that fame is one of the prices that we pay, that any creative person pays for their success. I don’t see it as a positive thing at all. Um – if you’re asking if that’s a goal in itself, I don’t – I tend to think that it’s something really to be avoided, if I were to offer advice to anyone.

John Pitman:
Really what I was thinking about was, a lot of people fight to achieve something, and then when they’ve got it they find living with it rather difficult.

ND:
Yes, yes, I think that’s true.

JP:
Have you had to give up much to achieve what you’ve got?

ND:
Just my life.

JP:
That’s a pretty big thing to give up.

ND:
Yes.

JP:
Is it worth it?

ND:
I don’t know. I’m afraid I don’t have a choice.

JP:
But you could stop.

ND:
I can’t, I’ve tried to, and I will stop in the future, but I think people tend to do things … I feel a sense of responsibility to what I do, and of course the music and performance, the stage is what I do best, and I think I get most of my satisfaction from doing what I do best, so that you continue on and on, there’s really no end point, you can’t stop.

JP:
Why did you, what was the main motivation for stopping for what, virtually four years?

ND:
It was just about four years, I stopped basically because I felt that I had to become a human being again, a person, as opposed to a public celebrity and someone who was in the limelight all the time. I felt it was important to come back to myself, to get to know myself, to give myself some time, and to get to know my family again and get to know my friends, to sleep in the same city for more than one or two nights, to live a very simple life, a normal life which I was brought up to understand and to enjoy. The life of a performer in this modern world is extraordinarily difficult, and I wanted to get away from it.

JP:
You were living a life that was jam-packed every minute.

ND:
Yes.

JP:
Didn’t you find it difficult to adjust?

ND:
No, it was so easy it was unbelievable. I did all the things I was accustomed to doing, I had breakfast in the morning with my son, one of the real joyful moments of the day. I was able to read a great deal, I read maybe 200 books in that time, and it was just lists of books that I had made while I was performing that I wanted to read. I was able to learn to relax, to spend the day fishing and not feel it was an unproductive day. I was able to establish close relationships with friends. These were all very important things to me that I had not had the chance to do for ten or twelve years before then, because once I began writing, I was a youngster, it consumed my life.

JP:
Were you, there were some reports that you were actually ill during that time, were you ill during that time?

ND:

No, other than I occasionally had a cold, I was really in very good shape.

JP:
Did you actually seek any help, did you try a psychiatrist at all?

ND:
I did, I went through psychoanalysis for a number of years. It was fantastic, I developed the ability to, really, to talk, to converse. I had been very closed and very, kind of, I let the music do it, I let the songs do it. But it was one of the most productive experiences of my life.

JP:
Why did you think you needed it?

ND:

Well, it’s a very popular thing in the United States, psychoanalysis, but you have to be able to afford it, it’s quite expensive, and there were many things pent up inside of me that I couldn’t understand and couldn’t really deal with, and I think that just sitting with somebody for an hour three times a week helped me enormously.

(sound of photo session, Neil responding to instructions of photographers)

ND:
I’d like to see it all add up to something, something worthwhile, something substantial. I’d like to look back on it when I get on, when I’m 75, and say that was a life well spent, you did well with your potential, you took care of your responsibilities, you shared, you gave, you gave what you had to give.

(Music & fade)

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