It’s billed as his 50th anniversary tour, but Neil Diamond has actually been a force in show business for longer than a half-century.
He was making a living as a songwriter in the early 1960s, and within a few years he had a lot of success writing songs that were covered by the Monkees (“I’m a Believer,” “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You,” “Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow,” Jay and the Americans (“Sunday and Me”) and even Elvis Presley (“And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind”).
But Diamond reached superstardom when he began hitting the charts with his own performances in 1966. Among the earliest were “Solitary Man,” “Cherry Cherry” and “You Got to Me.” He’s been a steady presence on the charts pretty much ever since. His most recent chart hit was in 2010, 44 years after his first. Not too many musicians have attained that kind of longevity.
As a concert act, he started off opening for the biggest bands of the ’60s, including The Who. In 1976, he was part of the “Last Waltz” concert, the final live performance by the Band that became a popular documentary by Martin Scorsese.
In the days before online ticket ordering, Diamond’s solo concerts were known for the thousands of people, many of them in their 40s, who camped out overnight the night before tickets went on sale to get the best seats.
Diamond recently released a three-disc retrospective album titled “Neil Diamond 50 – 50th Anniversary Collection,” and earlier this month he set out on a world tour. It comes to Amalie Arena in Tampa on Sunday.