Good times never seemed so good for Neil Diamond as they did on Friday night, when the pop icon was named MusiCares Person of the Year at the annual fundraiser for the charity that 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, who was in attendance. "You made the beginning of a life for me."
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.
Besides the auction, the event included a dinner (among the highlights was a "Cherry Cherry" chocolate truffle lollipop) and numerous artists who took the stage to perform their favorite Diamond classic. "This is like the greatest karaoke night ever," noted host Jimmy Kimmel.
The complete set list:
The Jonas Bros. - "Forever in Blue Jeans"
Jennifer Hudson - "Holly Holy"
Kid Rock - "Thank the Lord For the Nighttime"
Adele - "Cracklin' Rosie"
Urge Overkill - "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon"
Coldplay - "I'm A Believer"
Chris Cornell - "Kentucky Woman"
Raul Malo - "Solitary Man"
Cassandra Wilson and Terence Blanchard - "Love on the Rocks"
Los Volcanes (a tejano band booked for the event by Diamond after he called band member Eddie Rodriguez completely by accident - Diamond intended to call Eddie Vedder) - "Red Red Wine"
Tim McGraw - "Hello Again"
Foo Fighters - "Delirious Love"
Josh Groban - "Play Me"
Neil Diamond - "Cherry, Cherry," "Love on the Rocks," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" with Faith Hill, "Pretty Amazing Grace," "America" and "Sweet Caroline."