Sunday, November 14, 2010

The day I went to Neil Diamond's house

Watching Neil Diamond on TV doing the Electric Proms has rekindled a memory so bizarre that it almost doesn't feel real.

In my previous job - 12 years ago! - I used to get to the USA a couple of times a year to cover a couple of trade shows. I became good friends with Colleen O'Mara, the editor of a magazine in Hollywood, who went on to start her own PR company and we stayed in touch.

In the summer of 1997 we went on holiday to California and made the effort to contact Colleen. I got on really well with her boyfriend, Matt, and she invited us to a 4th of July party at Matt's parents' yacht club in Marina del Ray. Which was nice.

I enjoyed meeting Matt's Dad, Harvey. He was an interesting character who knew lots about lots. He also had a very fetching Neil Diamond casual tour jacket. I shared my own personal stories about how the great man provided the soundtrack to my youth as my parents were also big fans.

On the drive back to West Hollywood one of the other couples broke the news. Harvey was Neil Diamond's brother. Whaaaaat! I started reeling, wondering what I might have said that could have caused offence. Oh shit, did I say that Urge Overkill improved Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon? Did I?

The answer came the next morning when Matt, not Colleen, called me at our hotel and asked if we fancied coming over for a barbecue with his parents, who liked us. Where? His Uncle's house in Malibu!

So, long story short, we enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon eating food overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the balcony of Neil Diamond's house with a bunch of lovely friends of my new pal's parents. I swam in the sea and said hello to the young lad from the house next door who was cooling off. John Cusack. As you do. Neil, I should clarify, was at his other house. In Aspen.

A few years later Matt and Colleen got married and we went back for the wedding in San Francisco, this time with Joseph, then 18 months old. We got to meet Neil, who was a very kind man, but I wasn't quite as shameless and brash then and didn't get in his face the way I would now.

But what stuck in my mind was how he was also really encouraging to Susanna, the sister of another of our LA pals, who is a Canadian folk singer and musician. She performed a few of her haunting numbers and he was very impressed. I tell a story about meeting her and her father here.

Showbiz is around every corner in California, and you get very blase about it. The group of friends we hung out with over there see it all the time, many of them work in entertainment, but ultimately, at a family wedding he was just my friend's Uncle. And as time goes on, you look back and think - crazy times.

1 comment:

lookingoutforthem said...

Thank you so much for this new facet of the Diamond family. I will never meet Neil or be able to tell him how much I've enjoyed Brooklyn Roads, Juliet, Sunday Sun, etc., but through your post, I feel a little nearer the man, the uncle, the soundtrack of my youth and the undercurrent of my adulthood (I just turned 59).