“It was my honor,” said singer Neil Diamond in a tweet earlier this week.
He was expressing his gratitude to a group of Colorado firefighters for whom he briefly came out of retirement to give an impromptu, surprise concert.
It was my honor. Our entire community is grateful to the firefighters, first responders and incident command folks from the #LakeChristineFire. As our town rests a little easier, our hearts are breaking for the lives lost in the California fires still burning out of control. https://t.co/uRz08Hxphj
— Neil Diamond (@NeilDiamond) July 30, 2018
The beloved 77-year-old entertainer, who retired last January, gave the private singalong at the Incident Command post at Basalt High School in Basalt, Colorado, on Friday, as Rolling Stone and other outlets reported.
Diamond and his wife, Katie McNeill, have lived in the area for years, according to Inside Edition.
The Brooklyn-born singer revealed his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease last winter when he announced his retirement and the cancellation of his 50th anniversary tour on the advice of his physician.
The audience, filled with uniformed firefighter heroes, enthusiastically joined Diamond in singing his iconic “Sweet Caroline.” Diamond played acoustic guitar.
“Song Sung Blue,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “America,” “Solitary Man” — these are some of the other well-loved soundtracks by Diamond that years and years after their release remain dear to the hearts of many because of the times they bring listeners back to, not to mention their sheer musical artistry.
Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. He’s sold 130 million albums worldwide. On top of that, on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts, Diamond has had 10 number-one singles over the course of his career.
The 12,588-acre Lake Christine wildfire, which began on July 3, was 90 percent contained as of Wednesday evening.
Command was transferred from federal to local authorities on Tuesday.
Allison Marcus and Richard Miller, who stand accused of sparking the blaze, are currently free on $7,500 bonds. If convicted, they may face up to six years in prison, according to The Denver Post.
Award-winning actor Alan Alda announced his own diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease Tuesday on CBS This Morning. He was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative condition three and a half years ago
Like Diamond, the 82-year-old “M*A*S*H” star won’t let it steal his spark, noting he is “doing great” and has “had a full life [since the diagnosis].”
For the estimated 1 million Americans living with Parkinson’s disease, encouraging, hopeful examples like Neil Diamond and Alan Alda are an inspirational godsend.
Bless you, Mr. Alda. Guys like you, @NeilDiamond and @MichaelJFoxOrg are inspirations to us all and I know I speak for everyone on the planet when I say we love you guys and wish you all the happiness in the world. Thank you for being so candid with us. Please keep making things. https://t.co/GfAMl3bpuT
— Steve Rosen (@stevierosen) August 1, 2018
Truly a class act. Always was, always will be. And, oh, what beautiful music! ? God bless you @NElLDIAM0ND
— Carol Sanger (@csanger1) July 31, 2018
They are in our hearts and prayers ! As are you , dear Neil ! You have done probably more than you know for those brave firefighters with your appearance and a song ! ???????❤️??❤️??❤️
— janet waters (@janetwa07608112) July 30, 2018
What a stellar human being. I wish u nothing but the best in ur battle v Parkinson’s. @NeilDiamond I look forward to any new music you create. I saw you in July (third time I took my mom) & we had an amazing time. Ty 4 all the years of beautiful noise. Much love from CA! ❤️
— Sassy, Deep State Agent, Esq. (@Rafaeslomejor) July 30, 2018
There is only one Neil Diamond! I love your music, your heart, your generosity, and you. Thank you for singing for the firefighters!!
— Caroline Lindley (@mackinac55) July 31, 2018
— Brett Schulte (@brettschulte) July 31, 2018
And here’s more about Alan Alda, too, in the video below:
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.