Billboard announced today that legendary singer/songwriter Neil Diamond will receive its prestigious Legend of Live Award at the 2012 Billboard Touring Awards on Nov. 8 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York.
Additionally, Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater will be the recipient of the Humanitarian Award at the event, which will be hosted by comedian Sandra Bernhard.
Billboard's highest accolade in the touring space, the Legend of Live Award, honors individuals or bands who have made significant and lasting contributions to live music and the touring business. Beyond success at the box office, the Legend of Live Award recognizes professionalism and steadfast commitment to the art and craft of live performance and the fan experience at concerts. Previous honorees include promoter Michael Cohl, promoter Jack Boyle, Sir Elton John, agent Frank Barsalona, the Allman Brothers Band, Ozzy Osbourne, Rush and Journey.
Neil Diamond is a Grammy Award-winning artist who has sold over 128 million records, is a member of both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters Halls of Fame, and is a recipient of the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the highest honors bestowed upon songwriters. Diamond has garnered a Golden Globe Award, 13 Grammy nominations, and received the 2009 NARAS MusiCares Person of the Year Award. In 2011, Diamond also received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor for his lifetime of contributions to American culture.
Diamond has charted a wealth of Billboard hits, and first gained fame as a songwriter before branching out as an artist. His career longevity has in large part been driven by his incendiary live performances. Diamond's most famous record, "Hot August Night," is one of the most celebrated live albums of all time - so much so that Universal released "Hot August Night 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" this summer, cataloging the recordings from Diamond's legendary stint at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles in 1972. In August, Diamond wrapped his sold out North American tour with a return to the Greek for a five-night sold out run, a testament not only to his ongoing clout at the box office, but also his undiminished power as a performer.
"There is no musical expression that quite compares with that of presenting your work to a live audience," Diamond said. "It is the kind of experience that can both exhilarate and humble you at the same time. I'm honored to receive Billboard's Legend of Live Award, and to have had the opportunity to perform live to audiences all over the world for the past 45 years. For me, there is no higher musical calling."
"Neil Diamond personifies a Legend of Live," says Ray Waddell, Billboard's executive director of content and programming, touring & live entertainment. "His fans span generations, and he remains committed to making his live shows the best possible experience for those fans, right up to his hugely successful 2012 North American tour. Neil Diamond has received a wealth of accolades, but Billboard is thrilled to be the first to recognize Diamond solely for his contributions to the world of live entertainment."
Harlem's iconic landmark, the Apollo Theater, will receive the 2012 Humanitarian Award -- making it the first venue to receive the honor. This award recognizes the philanthropic efforts of a music industry entity, and the Apollo's not-for-profit organization, Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc., will be acknowledged for honoring the influence and advancing the contributions of African-American artists while recognizing emerging voices across cultures and artistic media. Previous honorees include Jack Johnson, Warped founder Kevin Lyman, Jon Bon Jovi, Bob Ezrin and The Edge for Music Rising, Live 8 producer Kevin Wall, Dave Matthews, and Clear Channel Entertainment.
"The Apollo Theater is being recognized as this year's Humanitarian Award honoree not just for what it means to Harlem and New York, but for the positive role it has had played through community outreach and nurturing talent that impacts all of us," says Waddell. "In exploring the Apollo's history and ongoing good works, it becomes clear that the Apollo Theater is much more than a music venue but, rather a gift to the world, with an ongoing impact that will be felt for decades to come."
"As the cornerstone of Harlem, and as one of its most distinguished and enduring community resources, our mission extends beyond music. We are committed to enhancing the life of our community and to fulfilling our role as a beacon of excellence in Harlem," said Jonelle Procope, President and CEO of the Apollo Theater. "We firmly believe in the Apollo's role as a community catalyst and gathering place, and through a variety of programs designed to engage children, adults, schools, families, artists, and community-based organizations, the Apollo's education and community activities build on the Theater's rich history as a cultural and economic anchor. The Apollo Theater and Billboard share a history of playing a tremendous role in shaping American music. That shared history makes accepting this award for community work a notable honor."
Also to be bestowed this year is the Road Warrior Award, presented by Shell Rotella, which recognizes touring work ethic, dedication to bringing a high level of professionalism and artistic integrity to every show - bands like this are the backbone of the concert industry. This award recipient embarks on lengthy tours across the world's highways spanning a number of years.
"The Shell Rotella brand is very pleased to be part of the Billboard Touring Conference & Awards and to acknowledge the hard work done by the touring industry to ensure that some of America's top artists and acts are able to perform," said Chris Guerrero, global brand manager, Shell Rotella. "As we present The Road Warrior Award, we think it's also important to recognize the professionalism and work ethic of drivers and road crews that put in thousands of miles on the road each year."
The 2012 Billboard Touring Awards honor the concert industry's top artists, venues and professionals for the year, primarily based on the Billboard Boxscore chart and actual box office performance between October 1, 2011 - September 30, 2012. Non-boxscore related awards, in addition to the Legend of Live, the Humanitarian and the Road Warrior Awards, include the Eventful Fans' Choice Award, and the Creative Content Award, the latter to be given to the Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil.
This awards reception culminates the two-day Billboard Touring Conference taking place at Roosevelt Hotel in New York City on November 7-8. The conference unites today's top touring professionals to discuss the current state of the industry. Guided by Ray Waddell, this unique event includes provocative panels, productive roundtables and networking opportunities with touring industry power players and decision makers.
Voting for the Eventful Fans' Choice Award is Open Until October 29: http://eventful.com/competitions/billboard2012