SANDY — Returning to the state of Utah but making his debut appearance at Rio Tinto Stadium, Neil Diamond promises to bring it July 28.
At 71, the American singer-songwriter with a hit-studded five-decade music career is considered the third-most successful adult contemporary artist ever on the Billboard chart (Barbra Streisand and Elton John come in second and first).
Diamond was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2011 and was honored at the Kennedy Center that same year. He's been called the "Jewish Elvis," though he never fit the part of the youthful rock-and-roll rebel.
He was serious and embraced adulthood, lending himself to more mature songs such as "September Morn."
He has eight hit singles that made No. 1 on the charts: "Cracklin Rosie," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," "Love on the Rocks," "America," "Yesterday's Songs," "Heartlight," "Desiree" and "Song Sung Blue."
His signature songs include two of his first hits — "Solitary Man" and "Cherry, Cherry" — along with "Hello Again" and "Sweet Caroline."
He wrote "I'm a Believer" for the Monkees, a song that topped the charts for seven weeks and was the biggest hit of 1966.
Diamond, born in 1941 and raised in Brooklyn, is one of the top-grossing performers and best-selling recording artists in the world. He has sold upwards of 125 million records and set attendance records at concert venues worldwide. He has placed 56 singles on Billboard's Hot Singles chart and 48 albums on the Top 200 Albums chart.
He's a renowned live performer.
"Hot August Night," a live album cut 40 years ago in 1972 at the Greek Theater, spent a year and a half on the charts. The anniversary edition will be on sale just after his Utah appearance on July 31.
On his 1986-87 tour, which included eight sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden and 14 at the Greek Theater, he performed for 1.7 million people in 61 cities.
He's not tired yet of singing and performing. He makes it clear he'll just keep singing as long as his fans keep coming to see him.
“I’m an imperfect emotional being trying to figure out some way to give some kind of substance and meaning to my life,” Diamond said on his website. “I write these little songs and go and sing them in a recording studio and, later, in front of a lot of people. It seems an odd way to gain an inner sense of acceptance of the self. But it’s what I do.”
Emotional honesty has been a constant in Diamond’s career. “I’ve never tried to be what I’m not. I am what I am: raggedy, over-the-top, heartfelt, emotional, reflective, passionate, angry and sad at times, which began long before I ever started writing song.”
Michael Steele, Rio Tinto general manager, said tickets have been selling consistently since they went on sale around Thanksgiving 2011 and he expects the 16,000 seats will sell out.
Steele said Diamond always draws a very diverse audience and puts on a good show.
"It's a good place to be on a Saturday night," he said. "We're very excited."
If you go...
What: Neil Diamond 2012 Summer Tour
When: 8 p.m., July 28
Where: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy
Cost: Adults from $67-$125
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.