Born in 1941 in Brooklyn, Diamond would go from humble beginnings to become a pop icon known worldwide. He attended NYU on a fencing scholarship and was in pre-med classes, but when the famous Brill Building offered to pay him for writing songs, he abandoned college. Diamond wrote songs that were recorded by Elvis Presley, The Monkees, Cliff Richard and others, while at the same time building his own singing career.
On November 30th 1969, Diamond debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show. He performed his hit “Sweet Caroline” sitting on a stool in front of an audience full of swooning. After an incredibly quick break and re-introduction from Sullivan, Diamond returned to sing “Holly Holy” on top of a multi-colored pyramid. Behind him were an army of seemingly careless flower children, dancing to the beat of the song and climbing the rainbow colored stairs surrounding Neil. These two songs ended up becoming his two biggest hits that year. “Sweet Caroline” was on the charts for 12 weeks and peaked at #4. “Holly Holy” also spent 12 weeks on the charts and peaked at #6.
Though the performance was a huge success, it surprisingly turned out to be Diamond’s only performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Perhaps it was too difficult to schedule him in the remaining months before the series ended. Luckily though, we have these classic performances preserved forever.
Since his appearance on the show, Diamond continued to churn out hit after hit. Over the years, his songs have been covered by a range of artists, including Coldplay, Dave Matthews, The Foo Fighters and the cast of Glee. With close to thirty albums and now ranked third in adult contemporary top hits (trailing behind Barbara Streisand and Elton John), Diamond continues to tour successfully and doesn’t look like he’ll be leaving the spotlight anytime soon.