THE RHUMBELOW THEATRE 42 Cunningham Rd off Bartle Road, Durban
Presents ‘HOT AUGUST NIGHT’ The Music Of Neil Diamond By Barry Thomson & The Reals, Dawn Selby, Jason Andrew & Mali Sewell. Showing from 5 October to 21 October 2018.
“Born in January 1941, Neil Diamond is an American composer, singer, musician and actor. With 38 songs in the Top 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts, Diamond has sold more than 125 million albums worldwide, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. In 2018, Diamond received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Diamond was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a Jewish family descended from Russian and Polish immigrants. He attended Erasmus Hall High School and was a member of the Freshman Chorus and Choral Club, along with classmate Barbra Streisand. ‘We were two poor kids in Brooklyn. We hung out in the front of Erasmus High and smoked cigarettes.’
At the age of 16, Diamond spent a number of weeks at Surprise Lake Camp, a camp for Jewish children, where folk singer Pete Seeger performed a small concert. Watching the children singing songs they wrote themselves, had an immediate effect on Diamond, who became aware of the possibility of writing his own songs. For his 16th birthday, he was given his first guitar, started lessons and began to write songs. He said his attraction writing songs was the ‘first real interest’ he had growing up, besides helping him release his youthful frustrations.
Often bored in class, he found writing song lyrics more to his liking. Diamond also used his newly developing skill to write poetry. By writing poems for girls he was attracted to in school, he soon learned it often won their hearts. His male classmates took note and began asking him to write poems for them which they would sing and use with equal success. He began cutting classes and taking the train up to Tin Pan Alley, where he tried to get some of his songs heard by local music publishers. Ten units short of graduation in his senior year, Sunbeam Music Publishing offered him a 16-week job writing songs for $50 a week and he dropped out of college to accept it.
Diamond spent his early career as a hired songwriter in the Brill Building where some of the most popular American hit songs were written, published and recorded. Neil’s first success as a songwriter came in November 1965, with ’Sunday and Me’ and greater success followed with The Monkees recording ‘I’m a Believer’ which became a gold record within two days of its release, voted the Popular Music Song of the Year in 1966. Other notable artists who recorded his early songs were the English hard-rock band Deep Purple, Lulu, Cliff Richard and UB40 with ‘Red Red Wine’.
His early concerts saw him as opening act for artistes including Herman’s Hermits and The Who and he was shocked to see Pete Townshend swinging his guitar like a club, then throwing it against walls and off the stage until the instrument’s neck broke. It was the first time he had seen a band smashing their instruments and amplifiers to pieces.
Developing into a dynamic concert performer, in 1971 Diamond played 7 sold-out concerts at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. A leading newspaper called it ‘the finest concert in Greek Theater history.’ Throughout the decades up to 2017, Diamond recorded over 40 albums and has toured the world marking his ascension to superstar status. In January 2018, Diamond announced his retirement from concert touring after 50 years. ‘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. My thanks go out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world. You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement. This ride has been ‘so good, so good, so good’ thanks to you.’
Paying respect to the music of this legendary artist composer and performer are Durban’s own tribute band ‘The Reals’ with Barry Thomson on guitar and vocals, musical director Dawn Selby on keyboards and vocals, Mali Sewell on drums and vocals and Jason Andrew on bass guitar and vocals. Included in the repertoire of ‘Hot August Night’ are Diamond’s hit songs ‘Cracklin’ Rosie, ‘Song Sung Blue’, ‘Longfellow Serenade’, ‘Desiree, ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’, ‘America’, ‘Heartlight’, ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘I’m A Believer’. A show not to be missed!” – Rhumbelow Theatre