The Band: Toured With Bob Dylan and Tiny Tim

Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson in this 1968 photo of The Band.

The Band may be the most original name for a band ever. They were referred to as the band, so they adopted the name, while touring with the legendary Bob Dylan and the not so legendary Tiny Tim.

The photo above looks like it could have been taken in the 1800’s, since this was a very scruffy looking band. They look more like an outlaw gang, than musicians in the photo.

Joined Ronnie Hawkins And The Hawks

All the members of  The Band gradually joined Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, with the exception of Levon Helm, who already a member of the Hawks backing band.

It was in 1963, when the Hawks broke up with Ronnie Hawkins, because they were going in a different musical direction. It was odd that Ronnie Hawkins found himself out of his own group, which would be come Levon Helm and the Hawks. They also recorded under the name of the Canadian Squires during this time.

Touring With Bob Dylan

The Band began touring with Bob Dylan, first with only Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm, but then the entire band, would later join Dylan on the road.

By this time Dylan was trying to be more of a rocker, than a folk singer so The Band fit nicely into his plans to have an edgier sound. However some of the folk song purists were calling Dylan by the name of Judas, since they didn’t appreciate Dylan converting into a rock singer.

Made Woodstock Appearance

The Band made an appearance at Woodstock in 1969, but their appearance wasn’t shown in the movie Woodstock, due to legal ramifications.

Eric Clapton, George Harrison Influenced By The Band

The Band made a huge impact on other artists of that era, including Eric Clapton and George Harrison. Clapton was said to have wanted to join The Band. Clapton liked The Band’s Music From Big Pink album so much, that he said it changed his life.

Eric Clapton singing in The Last Waltz movie. Notice how The Band covers for Eric when his guitar strap becomes unattached. This is guitar playing at its best.

The Last Waltz Documentary

By 1976 Robbie Robertson, who apparently perceived himself the leader of The Band, decided he didn’t want to tour, any longer, so planned a huge retirement celebration for The Band on Thanksgiving Day of that year. Many of the biggest names in music were there and movie director Martin Scorsese filmed the concert.

Whether you like the music or not, the movie will bring memories flowing back ,of a long ago era, when hippies were still dominant in San Francisco, where the concert was filmed at the Winterland Ballroom. One musical memory from the night was the use of a tuba in the concert by the orchestra.

Levon Helm singing the Robbie Robertson composition The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, a song about the end of the Civil War.

Bob Dylan singing Baby Let Me Follow You Down in the voice we like to remember him by.

Levon Helm singing The Weight which was voted 41st best song on Rolling Stone’s list of Top 500 Songs.

My son Steve had told me about the Last Waltz movie being made about The Band. I really had paid no attention The Band and hadn’t heard of the movie.

Be forewarned that the language in this movie is not for kids, but the music is what really matters the most, plus the reminders of a different era.

The Eric Clapton video of him singing in Last Waltz, is only the beginning of the music from this movie.

This is Levon Helm singing Ophelia, my personal favorite from the movie.

Neil Young singing Helpless.

Neil Diamond singing Dry Your Eyes

Rick Danko singing It Makes No Difference

All the singers join in on I Shall Be Released

The Band would resurface in 1983, but without Robbie Robertson. Levon Helm feuded with Robertson who was credited as songwriter on most of their original songs, but Helm thought the songwriting was more of a team effort. Their feud prevented Helm from even attending, the group’s induction, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Helm also did not attend the night, The Band was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2008.

Richard Manuel 1943-1986

Tragic Death of Richard Manuel

Richard Manuel, the pianist/drummer for The Band had been a heavy drinker, earlier in his career, but later would suffer a relapse. He told fellow band member Garth Hudson thanks for 25 years of music, not long before hanging himself in a Orlando, Florida motel on March 4, 1986.  He was 42 at the time of his death.

Rick Danko Dies in 1999

The death of Rick Danko from drug related heart failure on December 10, 1999 signaled the end of The Band. Danko had been taking prescribed morphine since a 1968 car accident, which left him in great pain, but he was still able to sing and play the guitar for the next 31 years.

His death came in his sleep in Marbletown, N.Y. home, which ironically was close to Woodstock.

Surviving Members of The Band

Levon Helm is still singing and drumming today at the age of 71.

Levon Helm has not retired from the music business, but is still going strong and also has some acting credits:

Helm has also had a considerable career as an actor. He has appeared in the movies The Three Burials of Melquiades EstradaShooter,Smooth TalkThe Right StuffThe DollmakerFeeling MinnesotaEnd of the LineIn the Electric MistFire Down BelowStaying Togetherand portrayed Loretta Lynn‘s father in the film Coal Miner’s Daughter opposite Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. – from Wikipedia

Robbie Robertson is now 68.

Robertson Writing Music For Soundtracks

Robbie Robertson 68, is still active today and has done a lot of work, with movie soundtracks. He has been active in the music business for 51 years.

Garth Hudson muscial genius of The Band is 74.

Garth Hudson Still Recording Today

Garth Hudson was the resident musical genius of   The Band who played the organ, piano, saxophone, accordion and electronic keyboards. Hudson is still active at 74. He has worked with music for movie soundtracks and has recorded five albums since 2000.

Music Chart Busts

The Band’s highest ranking single on the Billboard charts was Up on Cripple Creek which topped out at #25. Even The Weight did not sell well as it ended up at #63.

Last Waltz Movie Worth Watching

Martin Scorsese’s Last Waltz is worth watching if you haven’t seen it. It is also worth watching again, if you have seen it. It takes us back to a time a lot of us would like to forget, but also back to the music back then. There are not that many chances to see and hear a tuba being played in a band.

The street scenes shown at the first of the movie, will be especially enjoyed by those in San Francisco, who have walked those streets.

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X-Factor No Threat To American Idol

X-Factor judges Nicole Scherzinger, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid with Steve Jones as host on the American version of X-Factor.

Now that the American version of X-Factor has selected their 12 contestants, for their debut season on Fox, it is clear that American Idol should still be the top singing competition show in the United States.

One big difference that stands out, is that X-Factor is featuring big production numbers with dancers, while there is little dancing, that I recall from American Idol.

Another difference is that the American Idol judges, got along with each other much better, than the X-Factor judges. It may be too early to tell, if the drama between the judges is contrived to draw higher ratings, or if they genuinely don’t get along.

Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid seemed to be jousting with each other, making digs at the other judge for their song selections, etc. Nicole Scherzinger was also criticized by Simon Cowell for the way she handled the Over 30’s singers. Paula Abdul and Simon got along for the most part during the show that pared down the contestants from 16 to 12 for the remaining live shows.

Nicole has the toughest task, having to work with the older singers. It won’t be an easy task to mentor them, since the older singers probably won’t have a lot of support from voters, since the youngest fans are the ones more likely to vote.

With three singers 14 and younger, in Rachel Crow, Brian “Astro” Bradley and Drew Ryniewicz (who will be known as Drew) it makes me wonder if America, would want to see someone that young, win the $5 million recording contract which could mean problems with parents, who would not want to see the money put in a trust fund, where they couldn’t get hold of it.

The same goes for the older singers in Josh Krajcik, Stacy Francis and LeRoy Bell. Krajcik at 30 might be the favorite, because he is the best singer, in the Over 30’s group.

Stacy Francis and Melanie Amaro are the only remaining female solo artists who are 19 and older. Both of them have power voices that can stand out, but I think Melanie has the edge because of her age, not knowing if the 42 -year-old Stacy can win.

The two rap singers Chris Rene and Astro do some rapping, but think Astro stepped it up with his rapping on Wednesday’s show, while Chris sang a more subdued song. He will have to do more rapping, or Astro will probably outlast him on the show. On the other hand, not sure either can win the $5 million.

The Stereo Hoggz should be the best group, since InTENsity and Lakoda Rayne have been together a very short time. Not sure if the categories format is working, since they had to make two groups of singers, who had been eliminated. I think the show would be better, if the producers would take the top 12 singers, regardless of category.

However, that would ruin the competition between the judges, so the category concept will probably return again in 2012.

Right now, it is looking like a Melanie and Josh finale, but that is almost two months away, so a lot can happen in that time. Melanie, Josh and Stacy are the power voices of this season.

The show is missing any country singers, which could hurt X-Factor in the ratings. Most country music fans probably won’t bother tuning in, knowing there will be no country music on X-Factor. Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina showed the power of the country music fan voting in Season 10 of American Idol.

The following poll questions should give an idea of how popular X-Factor is:

This poll asks who you think is best singer on X-Factor among the 12 live show contestants:

This poll asks which show is your favorite with a choice of American Idol, The Voice and X-Factor

 

 

 

X Factor USA: Final 12 Chosen While Judges Spar With Each Other

The X Factor USA Episode 2: Melanie Amaro
Melanie Amaro, who was given a second chance by Simon Cowell advances to final 12 last night on the U.S. version of X-Factor on FOX.

GIRLS

Simon Cowell made a colossal mistake, by sending Melanie Amaro home, during the week the singers sang, at the homes of the judges. How he could send Melanie home, before Tiah Tolliver and Simone Battle was puzzling to say the least, especially considering that Simone had not forgotten a few words from her song at boot camp, but the entire song.

To his credit, Simon did reconsider and went to Florida to tell Melanie, that she was back in the competition. Melanie in my opinion, was the best singer among the 17 acts that sang last night.

By the time the show was over last night, Simon had sent Tiah Tolliver and Simone Battle home. Drew Ryniewicz who will also be in the final three girls, will be known as Drew for the rest of the season. Rachel Crow sang well and was her usual cute self, insuring her inclusion in the top three girls.

BOYS

Phillip Lomax was sent home, leaving Brian “Astro” Bradley, Chris Rene and Marcus Canty, as the three remaining boys in the competition. Personally, I liked Phillip singing Frank Sinatra music, but L.A. Reid seemed to be more interested, in singers that sing more current  music. Astro did an excellent job in his rap song and he and Marcus Canty were clearly the best boys singers last night. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chris Rene in danger of going home next week.

L.A. Reid must not be a country music fan, as he sent home Skyelor Anderson and Tim Cifers after the auditions at the home of L.A. Reid. Lomax was my favorite singer coming into last night’s show, since he sings the music from my generation. L.A. clearly favors rap over the other music genres.

GROUPS

Paula Abdul made the right choice by sending the Brewer Boys home. The Stereo Hoggz should have an excellent chance, of being in the final four this season. Their version of Try a Little Tenderness, showed their versatily.

The two groups that were thrown together InTENsity and Lakoda Rayne will return the next week with The Stereo Hoggz. The two new groups sang well, but not sure if they can outlast, the more polished, Stereo Hoggz which have what it takes, to go a long way this season.

The Brewer Boys wouldn’t have won on the final show, so it was just as well, that they were sent home. Paula did an excellent job with the choreography.

OVER 30’S

It was no surprise that Dexter Haygood was sent home during last night’s show. Nicole Scherzinger really liked Dexter but she knew he was not in the class of  Josh Krajcik, who really needs a name change bad, possible shortening his name to Josh. Le Roy Bell and Stacy Francis are a combined 102 years old, but still were better than Dexter. Matter of fact, it seemed like Dexter was sort of confused,  after being told he was going home.

Josh is the best bet, to be the last over 30’s singer remaining later in the season. He may not be the best looking of the three remaining singers, but his voice really stands out from the others.

OVERVIEW OF LAST NIGHT’S SHOW

The biggest difference between American Idol and X-Factor, were the production numbers during many of the songs. The music was too loud in some of the songs, overwhelming the singers, during some points in the songs. After all it is a singing competition, not a competition to vote on best production numbers.

Another difference was the quibbling between the judges, on songs chosen by the other judges, assuming the songs were picked by the judges. L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell seemed to have their own personal vendetta going on between each other. It  may have been genuine disagreement, but can’t help wonder, if the producers were trying, to create drama, to spark interest in the show.

At one point Simon called Nicole and Paula Squiddley and Diddley, while on another occasion Simon praised Paula for her work with the groups.

There was very little quibbling between the judges on American Idol and wonder how viewers perceive the bickering among judges on U.S. version of  X-Factor.

MY FAVORITES TO WIN THIS SEASON

My favorites to be the best in their category this season are:

Boys: Marcus Canty

Girls: Melanie Amaro

Groups: The Stereo Hoggz

Over 30’s: Josh Kravitz

This is probably too early to make a list, but wouldn’t be surprised if these singers are the final four for the season. Kravitz probably will need a makeover, before the season is over. He has the voice to win, but he doesn’t look like a winner.

Rachel Crow’s cuteness, might take her a long way, but she is no match, for the powerful voice of Melanie Amaro.

X-FACTOR RATINGS FOR LAST NIGHT

X-Factor attracted ten percent more viewers than last week, in the first live show on Fox last night. 11.8 million viewers watched the show, which placed the show in fourth place for the night.  The show still had stiff competition from CBS which drew 19 million viewers for NCIS and 15.9 million viewers for NCIS LA.

Dancing With the Stars was the third most watched show last night with 13.8 million viewers.

X-Factor should do better in coming weeks, as there should be no more scheduling shifts, due to the World Series, which probably affected the ratings.

I think even Simon Cowell realizes that X-Factor will not come close, to drawing more viewers than American Idol, but he would like to see the numbers improve from where they are now.

Jack Webb: From Dragnet to Adam 12 to Emergency

Jack Webb 1920-1982

Jack Webb was born on April 2, 1920 in Santa Monica, California. He died at the age of 62 on December 23, 1982 in West Hollywood California.

His father left home before Webb was born and he never knew his dad. He joined the Army Air Force but asked for a hardship discharge after not making the grade in flight training.

Acted in Old Time Radio

Webb starred in an ABC radio comedy the Jack Webb Show in 1946. He then starred in several detective themed old-time radio shows. Pat Novak For Hire, Johnny Modero, Pier 23 and Jeff Regan, Investigator which were his best known radio programs prior to Dragnet.

His big break came when Dragnet was first broadcast on radio in 1949, then would run till 1954. Webb portrayed Sgt. Joe Friday as a no-nonsense detective, who didn’t mince words.  The television version of Dragnet began televising in 1952 with Ben Alexander cast as Detective Frank Smith, concurrently with the radio version till 1954, when the radio series ended. The televised version would remain on the air till 1959. There was a radio or television version of Dragnet  being heard or seen for ten continuous years.

Webb loved jazz and starred in Pete Kelly’s Blues which on radio for less than two months, but would be the predecessor to the film version, of Pete Kelly’s Blues released in 1955. Then Pete Kelly’s Blues was also shown on television in 1959, but only 13 episodes were aired, before it was cancelled.

Dragnet also had a presence in radio, television and movies and it was successful in all three forms of media. A new television version of the original Dragnet named Dragnet 1967 ran till 1970 with Harry Morgan portraying Officer Bill Gannon.

Jack Webb grew up with severe asthma yet was a heavy smoker as can be seen by this advertisement mentioning that he smoked two packs a day. Smoking two packs a day today would cost roughly $180 a month.

Webb became so involved in production, that he wasn’t seen on the television screen often. He created Adam 12 which ran from 1968-1975 and  Ohara, U.S. Treasury which was shown from 1971-1972.

Julie London and Bobby Troup on Emergency
Julie London former wife of Jack Webb and her husband Bobby Troup on Emergency television program that aired on NBC.

Jack Webb showed he had no animosity toward his former wife Julie London, by hiring her and her husband to appear in his Emergency television program.  They appeared in but two of the 133 episodes that were aired.

Webb was married to Julie London from 1947-1953. He then married Dorothy Towne from 1955-1957, Jackie Loughery from 1958-1964. He widowed his last wife who he was married to from 1980-1982.

Jack Webb was working on a third television version of Dragnet with Kent McCord from Adam 12 lined up to be his partner, but died of a heart attack at 62.

Chief Daryl Gates of the Los Angeles Police Department retired Badge 714 after his death and Mayor Tom Bradley ordered all flags to flown at half-mast in his honor. He would be buried with a replica Badge 714.

Jack Webb’s tombstone is typical of Webb. There is no huge ornamental tombstone, but a plain tombstone, with his name and his life span.

This article written by Ben Alexander, gives us a better idea of  what the real Jack Webb was like. This paragraph tells me all I need to know about Jack Webb. I am inserting it here for those who may not have time to read the article:

Look at Victor Rodman. He had been disabled in an accident, and one of Jack’s joys about creating “Noah’s Ark” was the chance it gave him to employ Victor in a role that didn’t require walking around. Jack was thrilled with “Noah’s Ark” because it gave Victor a chance to prove what a fine actor he is. And a big reason Jack is eager to revive the show is that Victor will be working again.

http://www.badge714.com/

The Internet Movie Database biography includes some interesting trivia about Jack Webb:

Was buried with full honors befitting a LAPD detective, including a 17-gun salute.

Had just over 6,000 jazz albums in his private collection.

At the height of “Dragnet’s” popularity, people would actually call the LAPD wanting to speak to Webb’s character, Sgt. Joe Friday. The Department eventually came up with a stock answer to the large volume of calls: “Sorry, it’s Joe’s day off.”

Was a huge baseball fan, and chose badge number 714 for Sgt. Friday because it was the number of home runs Babe Ruth hit.

 

Jack Webb has created a lot of shows since Dragnet, but will always remember him, telling us what department he was working out of in the police department.

The color version of Dragnet was good, but there was something special, about the black and white version of  the 50’s. Those shows seemed to be more simple.  Who can ever forget the show, about the boy who got a rifle for Christmas and accidentally shoots his friend? This is the three-part The Big .22 Rifle For Christmas episode. Part 3 is very emotional as the father talks to his dead son, telling him what he would have received for Christmas. Then to make it even more emotional, the father of the boy killed,then gives the presents for his son,  to the boy who shot his son.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMbWZZVHYZQ

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl_-TNDVb7I&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–94KuSo5oM&feature=related

 

 

 

Simon Cowell Showing Softer Side in X-Factor

Simon Cowell is more mellow in his first season of his new reality series X-Factor being shown on Fox in Season One.

Simon Cowell had walked away from American Idol in May of 2010, to launch his own reality singing competition the X-Factor which debuted on Fox last month.

The 53-year-old Cowell known for his sarcastic comments, when judging American Idol contestants showed a softer side in Sunday’s episode. Each judge was to pick four acts for the live show of X-Factor. Cowell made his four choices, then realized he made a mistake, so he went to Florida to tell Melanie Amaro, a singer who he had sent home, that she was still going to be on the live shows.

Melanie was shocked to see Simon at her house. I give Cowell credit for admitting he made a mistake. However, it wasn’t really fair to the other three judges that he has five acts while they have only four each.

Fought To Keep Tiah Tolliver

In his nine seasons of American Idol, there was not a time that I recall Simon, fought to have anyone on the show. He became perturbed earlier in the auditions, when Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger refused to vote for Tiah Tolliver. Cowell became agitated and finally got his way, when Tiah advanced.

My personal opinion is that Caitlin Koch deserved to be on the live shows. So when he said he made a mistake, by choosing to keep the wrong singer,  I was hoping he would give Koch a second chance, but instead he chose Amaro to continue in the competition.

Rachel Crow Kept for Ratings

Rachel Crow is a cute kid, but I have a feeling that she was voted onto the live show, more for her personality than her singing ability. She is very likable though, which could help garner higher ratings.

So his team will consist of Rachel Crowe 13, Drew Ryniewicz 14, Melanie Amaro 19, Tiah Tolliver 19 and Simone Battle 22. Personally I liked Caitlin Koch more than any of the other four singers, but Simon apparently doesn’t like easy listening music. The surprising thing is that Cowell was complimenting her to his assistants after sang at his house.

Rooting For Over 30 Singers

It was easy to root for the over 30 singers, since I am 67 and am especially rooting for Stacy Harris 42, and Dexter Haygood 49, since they seem to be the worst off financially. However Josh Krajcik 30, may be the best singer of the above 30’s, while LeRoy Bell 60 could also give the other three, all the competition they can handle. Stacy Harris 42, has the saddest back story of the over 30’s having been told, by an ex, that she would never make it in the music business.

Chris Rene the Singing Garbage Collector

The most financially troubled of the bunch seems to be Chris Rene from the boys group, who collects garbage for the living, plus has quit a drug habit for about three months now. I am hoping that he can stay away from drugs, so he can advance in the competition.

Disappointing Ratings Hurting Fox

Simon Cowell was expecting 20 million to tune in X-Factor this season, but the show is drawing about 12 million viewers a show. This development caused Fox to drop their advertising charges, resulting in savings for the advertisers, but causing the show to lose money.

It may have been a mistake for Fox to show X-Factor during the World Series, which is on Fox. X-Factor has been shown on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at least once this season, due to conflicts with major league baseball playoff games. If fans have too much problem finding the show, it could result in even lower ratings.

Once the World Series ends, the show should gain some of the viewers, who tired of finding it in different time slots. It will also help, once the viewers find a favorite or favorites, to root for and start watching the show on a consistent basis.

My personal thought about the show, is that it will be a good show, with some very talented singers. It will be interesting how X-Factor will end the season on December 21, since there are 17 singers remaining in the show. That should mean we will see some double eliminations, during the season to pare down the competitors to two for the finale.

American Idol: Paul McDonald Marries Nikki Reed

Paul McDonald of American Idol fame and actress Nikki Reed were married on Sunday in Malibu, California.

Paul McDonald may not have won Season 10 of American Idol, but he won the heart of actress Nikki Reed. They were married in Malibu, California after having announced their engagement in June.

McDonald finished eighth on the American Idol reality show and was eliminated on April 14, 2011. He had met Reed at a Hollywood premiere and his early elimination gave them more time to see each other.

Reed has appeared in five Twilight movies, with the fifth one The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II currently in post-production.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2049967/Nikki-Reed-marries-Twilight-star-weds-American-Idol-beau-Paul-McDonald.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Neil Diamond Enters Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at 70

[Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond early in his career.
A more recent photo of Neil Diamond.

Neil Diamond was born in New York City on January 24, 1941. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 14, 2011. First thought is what took them so long to induct him, behind a band named Traffic, which was inducted in 2004. Traffic may have been a great group, but I can’t recall the name of even one of their songs, or band members and wasn’t even sure what they looked like, till I saw their photo at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website. There is no reason for Neil Diamond to wait 45 years to be inducted, after writing a No.1 song in I’m A Believer, which was also Popular Music Song of the Year in 1966.

Sweet Caroline perhaps his best known recording peaked at No.3 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart but went platinum. Diamond had Holly Holy in 1969, Cracklin’ Rosie and 1979’s duet You Don’t Bring Me Flowers with Barbra Streisand all reach the platinum status.

Neil Diamond singing Dry Your Eyes in The Last Waltz a 1978 movie.

Cracklin’ Rosie First No.1 Hit

Diamond achieved fame as a songwriter, before recording is first No.1 hit in 1970’s Cracklin’ Rosie, which was written and sung by Diamond. Two years later in 1972 Diamond would place Song Sung Blue, in both the U.S. and U.S. Adult Contemporary categories on the record chart.

Then Diamond continuing the trend of having a No.1 hit every two years, recorded Longwell Serenade, which was a No.1 song in U.S. Adult Contemporary in 1974.

Diamond would record ten No.1 hits during his career, with the last No. 1 being Heartlight released in 1982.

Only One No.1 Studio Album

The first studio album was released by Diamond in 1966. It would be 42 years later, in 2008 when he had Home Before Dark, a studio album place No. 1 on the record chart.

No other Neil Diamond album ever went to No.1, but six of his albums were designated as multi-platinum.

Neil Diamond singing his classic Sweet Caroline.

Third Most Popular Adult Contemporary Artist

Only Barbra Streisand and Elton John have sold more albums than Diamond among all adult contemporary artists. He is still touring at the age of 70 and drawing huge crowds.

Even at age 70, Diamond was No.1 in ticket sales according to this news from Billboard.com ahead of No.2 Jason Aldean and No.3 Dolly Parton:

Neil Diamond shines at No. 1 on the latest Hot Tours ranking with $4 million in ticket sales reported by London’s O2 Arena, the final venue on his tour outing during the spring and summer.  The veteran singer/songwriter played three shows in London on July 9, 11 and 13 with a combined attendance total of 36,000 for all three nights, capping off a slate of June/July arena performances in five markets in the U.K. and Ireland.  Diamond kicked off his 2011 tour in New Zealand at the end of February and played dates in Australia and South Africa during March and April.  The European leg began in Belgium in early June.

Dubious Claim To Fame

There is one thing that Neil Diamond would probably not want to be remembered for. His America would be used as the theme song, in the presidential campaign  of Michael Dukakis, in his futile bid for the presidency in 1988.

Katie McNeil 2011 - P
Katie McNeil is the fiancée of Neil Diamond who announced their engagement last month via Twitter.

Neil Diamond has had an eventful year, having been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March, even though some thought he was drunk when he made his acceptance speech, if it can be called a speech.

His concerts are drawing huge crowds and earning millions of dollars, but even more importantly, he has announced his engagement with his manager Katie McNeil.

Diamond has been in the music business for about 50 years, but he seems as popular as ever, since his fans are still showing up in droves in whatever venues, that he appears.