On this day in music history: October 10, 1970 – “Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Neil Diamond, it is the first chart topping single for the prolific Brooklyn, NY born singer, songwriter and musician. Diamond is inspired to write the song while on a trip to Toronto, Canada. A medical missionary tells him a story about a Native American tribe that had more men than women, and how the men without women would buy and drink bottles of Rosé wine in lieu of female companionship. “Cracklin Rosie” is recorded at Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA in the Spring of 1970. Issued as the first single from the album “Tap Root Manuscript” on July 30, 1970, it quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #62 on August 22, 1970, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The single is also Diamond’s breakthrough hit outside the US, peaking at #3 on the UK chart and #2 on the Australian singles chart. “Cracklin’ Rosie” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 1, 1973 – “Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is released. Produced by Tom Catalano, it is recorded at Sound Labs Studios and Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, CA from Early – Mid 1973. By the end of 1972, Neil Diamond’s career is firing on all cylinders. Having scored his second number one single with “Song Sung Blue” in July and another million selling album with “Moods”, Diamond plays a series of ten now legendary concerts at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, CA in August 1972. The August 24th performance is documented in the classic double live album “Hot August Night” released at the end of the year. Neil tops off the year with another series of marathon live shows, playing twenty sold out concerts at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City, that Fall. Exhausted from the relentless grind of touring, Diamond takes nearly four year hiatus from the road before making a return to live performing. In December of 1972, his contract with Uni/MCA Records is also up, leading to numerous labels looking to sign the musician. Clive Davis at Columbia Records winds up attracting Diamond with an offer too good to refuse. The contract guarantees a $425,000 advance for each album due to the label (ten albums over a five year period), a then unprecedented amount offered for a musician’s services. Diamond’s first release for his new label will be a major departure from anything he has done previously. He is asked by director Hall Bartlett to compose the score to the film adaptation of “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, Richard Bach’s best selling novella about a young seabird cast out by his flock. Diamond accepts the offer and gets to work writing the accompanying song score. Beautiful and lushly orchestrated, it features arrangements by film and television score composer Lee Holdridge. When Diamond submits the album to CBS, initially there is concern that it is not commercial, and at first CBS is considered a laughing stock by industry insiders for signing Diamond for such a large amount of money. At first, the naysayers seem to be right when the film itself is a monumental flop. Though the album is the complete opposite of a failure, and is a huge success. It sells so well that it alone pays for the cost of Diamond’s contract. It spins off two singles “Be” (#34 Pop) and “Skybird” (#75 Pop). The album wins a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture. “Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 1, 1972 – “Song Sung Blue” by Neil Diamond hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 7 weeks on June 3. 1972. Written by Neil Diamond, it is the second chart topping single for the Brooklyn, NY born singer, songwriter and musician. and one of his signature songs, and one the highlights of his live performances over the years. Issued as the first single from his eighth studio album “Moods”, the song quickly becomes a hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #67 on May 6, 1972, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The song is nominated for two Grammy Awards including Record and Song Of The Year (losing to Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”). “Song Sung Blue” is also the last major hit single Diamond has on Uni Records, before signing with Columbia Records in 1973. “Song Sung Blue” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 17, 1969 – “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show”, the fourth studio album by Neil Diamond is released. Produced by Tom Catalano, Chips Moman, Tommy Cogbill and Neil Diamond, it is recorded at American Sound Studios in Memphis, TN from Late 1968 – Early 1969. Diamond records the album with the studios famed rhythm section led by musician and producer Chips Moman who is also working with Elvis Presley at the time. The albums big hit single “Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)” (#4 Pop) is actually recorded after the album is completed and released. The singles great popularity leads Uni Records to add the song to subsequent pressings of the album, which is also re-titled “Sweet Caroline”, and reissued with different cover artwork. “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” peaks at number eighty two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 9, 1972 – “Hot August Night”, the tenth album by Neil Diamond is released. Produced by Tom Catalano, it is recorded at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, CA on August 24, 1972. It is Diamond’s second live album, the twenty two track double LP set is taken from a single performance recorded on August 24, 1972 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, CA, in the middle of a run of ten sold out shows at the famed outdoor venue. It is a huge critical and commercial success for Diamond, and establishes his reputation for dynamic live performances captured on the album. It also is his final release for MCA Records before signing a lucrative and long term contract with Columbia Records. The album spins off three sequels released in 1977 (“Love At The Greek”), 1987 (“Hot August Night II”) and 2009 (“Hot August Night/NYC”). The album is remastered and reissued as a two CD set in 2000, and again in 2012 for its fortieth anniversary with additional tracks that were cut due to the time constraints of vinyl. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, the original version is reissued by UMe in 2012, and reissued again in 2017. “Hot August Night” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 13, 1971 – “Stones”, the seventh studio album by Neil Diamond is released. Produced by Tom Catalano, it is recorded at Sound Recorders in Los Angeles, CA from Spring – Summer 1971. The album features arrangements by Marty Paich and Lee Holdridge. Initial pressings of the LP feature custom picture labels on the record and a jacket with the artist’s name embossed on the front, and a button-string style closure on the back. Later pressings have a standard LP jacket with either regular Uni or MCA labels. It will spin off two singles including “I Am… I Said” (#4 Pop) and the title track b/w “Crunchy Granola Suite” (#14 Pop). The album also wins a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording for Recording engineer Armin Steiner in 1973. “Stones” peaks at number eleven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 10, 1980 – “The Jazz Singer – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is released. Produced by Bob Gaudio, it is recorded at Arch Angel Studios, The Record Plant Mobile 3, Dawnbreaker Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Sunset Sound and Cherokee Studios in Hollywood, CA from Mid 1979 – Early 1980. Issued as the soundtrack to the film starring Neil Diamond and Laurence Olivier, it is a contemporary remake of the 1927 film starring Al Jolson, the first motion picture to feature a synchronized soundtrack. While the film receives mixed reviews and tepid box office returns, like Diamond’s soundtrack for the ill-fated “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, the album is a huge success. It spins off three singles including “Love On The Rocks” (#2 Pop), “America” (#8 Pop) and “Hello Again” (#6 Pop), becoming Neil Diamond’s biggest selling album. Originally released by Capitol Records in 1980, the rights to the soundtrack album revert to Diamond’s long time record label Columbia Records in 1996, when it is remastered and reissued on CD. “The Jazz Singer – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.