Originally Published: August 28, 2014 6:04 a.m.
Eddie Diamond developed his taste for superstar Neil Diamond's music when he was young.
"My parents told me I was an easy child to babysit," the Scottsdale musician said, because he would sit with a record player and a stack of records and "play for hours."
"Whatever my parents listened to, I did," he added.
But, Diamond said, when he started choosing his own artists to listen to, Neil Diamond became his all-time favorite.
Diamond will pay tribute to his idol Saturday in a concert at the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center. Showtime is 7 p.m. Ticket are $22/$25 and are available by calling 777-1370 or logging onto www.preescottelkstheater.com. People can also get tickets at the door one hour before the show starts.
Diamond has been actively dabbling in music since he was 12, when he started a rock and roll band.
Along the way, Diamond immersed himself in the music and style of Neil Diamond. "I have been a fan of Neil Diamond as far back as I can remember," he said. "Growing up, I purchased all of his records and memorized the lyrics to a great number of his songs. Neil's music inspired me to sing, play guitar and piano, and also to write my own music," he said. "Singing his songs always felt very comfortable to me. It's hard to explain, but when I sing his songs, it feels like I'm visiting with an old friend."
What Diamond especially admires is that Neil Diamond "is not stuck on one style," he said, and the audience will get a broad taste of the star's artistry on Saturday.
"We rotate through about 50 or so of Neil Diamond's greatest hits, but there are some definite signature songs that we have to play at every show, like 'Sweet Caroline,' 'Cherry, Cherry' 'Forever in Blue Jeans,' 'Cracklin' Rosie,' 'Solitary Man,' 'Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show,' and, of course, 'America,' " Diamond said.
Diamond explained he's hired and fired a lot of musicians, not because they were not talented, but rather he was determined to find the right ensemble that "shares the same love and enthusiasm for the artist that you are emulating." Finally, by the end of 2012, he met an established group of musicians "who were almost as crazy about Neil as I am. That's when the fun began."
Much of the music Neil writes is about himself, his family, his friends and life experiences. "I enjoy sharing some of the background and stories with the audience about what inspired Neil to write a particular song, " he said.
"If I notice a lady who is truly enjoying the show, I will walk over to where she is seated, take her hand and sing to her one of Neil's legendary love ballads."