Good times never seemed so good for Neil Diamond as they did last night (Feb. 6). The pop icon was named MusiCares Person of the Year at the annual fundraiser for the charity, which helps musicians who have fallen on hard times.
"This is a great honor, of course," Diamond said at the event, which was held at the L.A. Convention Center and attracted a crowd of 2,200 people. "I've been writing music for a little over 50 years now, and it's hard to believe because it seems like yesterday."
Diamond said he started taking guitar lessons as a child in a fit of depression after the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. His parents bought him a guitar, and paid it off over the course of 10 weeks at the price of $1 a week.
"It was a good investment, mom," Diamond said to his mother Rose, who was in attendance. "You made the beginning of a life for me."
A host of stars paid tribute to Diamond by performing his songs. The Jonas Brothers played "Forever in Blue Jeans," Jennifer Hudson belted out "Holly Holy" and Urge Overkill did its famed cover of "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" from the "Pulp Fiction" soundtrack.
A Tejano band called Los Volcanes performed "Red Red Wine," a booking Diamond joked that happened after he called band member Eddie Rodriguez by accident, when he really meant to call Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. "This is like the greatest karaoke night ever," noted host Jimmy Kimmel.
Diamond closed the evening with a mini-set of his own, including a run through "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" with Faith Hill. The event was chaired by Ticketmaster Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff, Diamond's longtime business manager Marshall Gelfand and AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke.
Among the items auctioned off at the benefit were a customized 2009 Acura TL which went for $55,000 and a Britney Spears London Experience, which included business class airfare to see the "Circus" tour in London, for $30,000.
In addition, Diamond donated his own perfectly restored 1956 Thunderbird for the auction, and Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow bought it. He promised to take Diamond out for a ride.
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The complete set list:
"Forever in Blue Jeans," the Jonas Brothers
"Holly Holy," Jennifer Hudson
"Cracklin' Rosie," Adele
"Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon," Urge Overkill
"I'm a Believer," Coldplay
"Kentucky Woman," Chris Cornell
"Solitary Man," Raul Malo
"Love on the Rocks," Cassandra Wilson and Terence Blanchard
"Red Red Wine," Los Volcanes
"Hello Again," Tim McGraw
"Delirious Love," Foo Fighters
"Play Me," Josh Groban
Neil Diamond set:
"Love on the Rocks"
"You Don't Bring Me Flowers" with Faith Hill
"Pretty Amazing Grace"