Musician gives a rare and candid interview about the 2018 diagnosis, which led to his retirement from touring
Neil Diamond has given a candid interview about living with Parkinson’s disease, saying he has only recently accepted his condition.
Appearing on CBS Sunday Morning, the 82-year-old musician told journalist Anthony Mason he was in denial “for the first year or two” after receiving his diagnosis in 2018.
“When the doctor told me what it was, I was just not ready to accept it,” he said. “I said, ‘Oh, OK, I’ll see you whenever you want to see me, but I have work to do, so I’ll see you later.’”
Diamond, the singer-songwriter behind hits such as Sweet Caroline and Cracklin’ Rosie, said acceptance had brought him a sense of calm.
“I think this has just been in the last few weeks. But somehow, a calm has moved in and the hurricane of my life and things have gotten very quiet.
“And I like it. I find that I like myself better. I’m easier on people. I’m easier on myself and the beat goes on and it will go on long after I’m gone.”
Even so, he told Mason, acceptance is still a difficult process.
“I’m still doing it and I don’t like it,” he said. “OK, so this is the hand that God’s given me and I have to make the best of it. And so I am.
“There’s no cure, there’s no getting away from it. You can’t just say, OK, enough already, let’s get back to life. It doesn’t work like that. But I’ve come to accept what limitations I have and still have great days.”
Diamond’s diagnosis in 2018 scuppered the Australian leg of his 50th anniversary tour. He had already performed shows across the US and Europe before he announced his retirement from touring.
The CBS interview also covered the Broadway musical A Beautiful Noise, which opened last December and is based on Diamond’s life and music.
“The show is part of my psychotherapy, and it hurt,” he said.
“I didn’t like looking at myself in many of the scenes … I was a little embarrassed, I was flattered, and I was scared.”
At the opening night of A Beautiful Noise, Diamond surprised the audience with a singalong of Sweet Caroline on stage – one of his first public performances since his retirement.
“I can still sing,” he said in the CBS interview. “I’ve been doing it for 50 years and I enjoy it. It’s like all the systems of my mind and my body are working as one.
“I’ve had a pretty amazing life, it’s true.”