At last in Nashville after a wonderful six week run with Neil Diamond & Co. through Europe and the U.K.
Looking back to this past February when we began rehearsals for Neil’s 50th Anniversary tour, it seems like ages ago and at the same time it’s absolutely flown by. What a gift for this opportunity to have fallen in my lap after a 30 year absence from touring with him.
By the end of 1987 I was 36 years old… already living in Nashville for a couple of years. I’d recorded and toured with Neil going back to 1971 and felt it was time to try a few other things. I don’t regret having left the band then. I fully submerged myself in the Nashville studio scene, playing loads of record dates and producing them as well. That led me to record with Mark Knopfler and subsequently tour with him. During those ‘absent’ years I played on a few of Neil’s albums but never thought I’d take the boards with him again. When I received a call in November of last year to see if I might be interested, the first thing I thought of was how I’d missed Neil, that family of musicians, the personnel and those times. Along with the years of touring, I’d contributed to more than a few of his hits in the recording studio, one of which we wrote together.
After checking with Mark K. and hearing we would not be touring this year, I leapt at the chance to go back out with ND and the band again, especially this 50th anniversary tour. A big plus was my son Nick would be holding down the other guitar chair, giving us the chance to play large arenas together as well as do some sight seeing. The whole thing came together so effortlessly and from the first day of rehearsal last February to our final shows in London at the O2 Arena, this has been a pleasure and an honour both personally and professionally. Lots of laughs with long-time mates, more than a few memorable meals, meeting up with friends and relatives along the way and good shows with a guy who’s still at the top of his game and, in the 46 years I’ve known him, is singing better than he ever has.
I’d always felt a great debt of gratitude to Neil for the doors that opened to me, the many things I’d learned from him in those years and where it’s led me. Going into this I thought I might make a small payment toward that debt. As the tour ends I find, happily so, that I’m only further in the red to him. Thanks Neil… love you.
Now, Nashville…. I plan to finish this new record for myself that I’ve been chipping away at for so long. I’ve done some more writing while on tour and will record these tunes, throw them on the pile already in the can, choose the best of it and finally get it all wrapped up. I’ll also be recording with Mark Knopfler and really looking forward to that. Some other odds and ends already coming in for sessions so I plan to keep busy through the autumn and winter months And then… the holidays.
Right now though, it is very good being back home again with my family, sleeping in my own bed and using a bar of soap larger than a box of matches.