Neil Diamond was back on the stage over the weekend for a very special cause.
The legendary singer and songwriter, 79, performed at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, where he was honored for his impactful musical contributions to the world at Keep Memory Alive’s 24th annual Power of Love Gala.
“I’m feeling great,” Diamond boasted at the event, which raised money for crucial funds and awareness for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. “This is an important thing they’re doing and I feel honored to be part of it and take part in it.”
In addition to his award, which was presented by gala host Jimmy Kimmel and Keep Memory Alive’s founder and chairman Larry Ru, Diamond also performed a handful of his greatest hits.
It was one of the first performances Diamond has given since he retired from touring in January 2018 following a diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease.
Dressed in one of his signature glittery jackets, Diamond’s mini concert included “Hello Again,” “Forever in Blue Jeans,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Love on Rocks,” “I Am…I Said” and “September Morn.”
The night wrapped with Diamond singing “Sweet Caroline” alongside Kimmel and some of the evening’s other attendees Billy Ray Cyrus, Sammy Hagar, Chris Isaak, and Katlyn Nichols.
“I love Las Vegas and I love Neil Diamond,” Kimmel, 52, said, introducing Diamond. “Not only do I love Neil, but my parents love him, my friends love him, my children love him. Neil Diamond is an amazing songwriter and singer and I think you will agree that no Jewish man looks better in sequins than Neil Diamond.”
Diamond announced he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in a statement on his website in January 2018.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder with no cure. Symptoms include tremors, stiffness and difficulty balancing, walking and coordinating movement.
At the time, Diamond had already completed dates in North America and Europe on his 50 Year Anniversary World Tour, but had to cancel the third leg of the tour, with dates in Australia and New Zealand.
“It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring. I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years,” Diamond said at the time. “My sincerest apologies to everyone who purchased tickets and were planning to come to the upcoming shows.”
He went on to explain that the onset of the Parkinson’s disease had “made it difficult to travel and perform on a large-scale basis.” But he also made it clear that Parkinson’s would not stop him from “writing, recording and development of new projects”
“I plan to remain active in writing, recording and other projects for a long time to come,” Diamond said. “My thanks goes out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world. You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement. This ride has been ‘so good, so good, so good’ thanks to you.”
Also at Saturday’s gala, March 7 was proclaimed “Neil Diamond Day” in Las Vegas.
Other attendees included Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Kelsey Grammer, Derek Hough, Greg Phillinganes, Paula Abdul, Botched‘s Paul Nassif, Bar Rescue star Jon Taffer, and British singer Matt Goss, among others.
Many of the stars shared their personal stories about the cause, like Issak, who talked about playing music for his mother currently in a memory care facility.
Issak also performed during the gala, covering Diamond’s “Solitary Man.” Cyrus kicked off the show, singing Diamond’s “I’m a Believer,” while Hagar covered the music icon’s “Thank the Lord for the Nighttime” and Edmonds and Nichols sang the Diamond/Barbra Streisand duet, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.”
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