Today is singer Neil Diamond’s 79th birthday. Diamond was born and raised in Brooklyn and the neighborhood he hails from is Flatbush. The son of a shop keeper, he attended Erasmus Hall High School, which also gave us Barbra Streisand, Beverly Sills, Eli Wallach, author Bernard Malamud and cartoon king Joseph Barbara. Diamond actually performed there in front of an audience of a few hundred in a surprise gig back in 2014 and One of Diamond’s #1 hits was "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," his 1978 duet Barbra Streisand. They were in a choral group together at Erasmus but weren’t friends.
The High School was founded as the private Erasmus Hall Academy in 1786 with financial support from Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The original clapboard building still stands on the grounds of the high school.
Diamond is sometimes called the “Jewish Elvis”. Diamond wrote the hits "I'm A Believer" (1966) and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" (1967) for the Monkees, and had his own first No. 1 hit with "Cracklin' Rosie" (1970). He has had ten No. 1 singles on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts: "Cracklin' Rosie", "Song Sung Blue", "Longfellow Serenade", "I've Been This Way Before", "If You Know What I Mean", "Desirée", "You Don't Bring Me Flowers", "America", "Yesterday's Songs", and "Heartlight". In all he had 58 charting singles between 1966 and 1986.
Diamond retired from touring two years ago after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. A biographic musical about his life and music is Broadway bound for a tentative summer 2020 opening.