Neil Diamond- Shine On

July 27, 2006


Back in 1966, having been traumatized by my run in with the
Rolling Stones in the U.K., I returned to the United States.

My friend, Ed Silvers, who produced me as an artist for
Liberty records, was now a vice-president of April-Blackwood
music [Columbia Records publishing arm], and gave me my
first job as a songplugger. Of all the staff writers, Van
McCoy, who was starting to make a name for himself and a new
writer, a young Neil Diamond, impressed me the most.

Neil was not only prolific, all of his lyrics were
consistantly deep and his music, always commercial. I looked
forward to him coming in to sing and play live, and
familiarize me with the songs he had in the catalog. I had
dozens of ideas of who should record this and who should
record that…and I couldn’t wait to get started! Then two
weeks after I joined the company, Ed Silvers left in a
political hailstorm, leaving me to fend for myself!

The interim management team, urged me to stay since I got
along with the staff writers and knew the catalog a little
better than they did. After a little “financial” persuasion
I decided not to leave. As they rushed me through a routine
medical exam for their insurance company, the doctors
discovered an previously unknown heart condition, and gave
me two years to live unless I had an immediate operation!!

April-Blackwood eagerly offered to pay all of my expenses,
so I went in to have open heart surgery the following week.
I was one of the first Americans to have such an operation
and I’m happy to say I made medical history, up and walking
36 hours after my operation!

When I went back to the publishing company, a few weeks
later I saw a memo on my desk from the interim Chief. Neil
Diamond’s current contract was about to expire and they
would have to pay him an additional $50 a week, if they
wanted to keep him. The memo went on to say that this is
something they refused to do, since Neil was still a few
thousand dollars in the red on his old contract!

That’s when I saw RED…I stormed [more accurately hobbled
dramatically] into the executive offices, holding my heart
and fighting to get a pittance for a songwriter who I thought
was worth millions! When my pleas fell on deaf ears, that’s
when I coined the phrase, “This Sucks!” and left CBS forever!

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