It took Neil Diamond years to accept his Parkinson's diagnosis: 'I'm still doing it'

Neil Diamond hold a microphone in one hand and reached his other hand out onstage
Pop star Neil Diamond is opening up about his Parkinson's disease diagnosis in an interview set to air Sunday. (Charles Sykes / Invision / Associated Press)
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Years after revealing his Parkinson's disease diagnosis, rock legend Neil Diamond is opening up about life with the degenerative brain disorder.

In the upcoming "CBS Sunday Morning" interview, the 82-year-old "Sweet Caroline" crooner reveals that he wasn't ready to accept his diagnosis for at least a year or two.

"I'm still doing it. And I don't like it," Diamond told correspondent Anthony Mason. "But … this is me; this is what I have to accept. And I'm willing to do it. And, OK, so this is the hand that God's given me and I have to make the best of it, and so I am. I am."

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer announced in 2018 that he had Parkinson's, which can cause tremors, slow movement, stiffness and loss of balance, among other issues. Diamond said that he's only come to accept his diagnosis "in the last few weeks."

"But somehow, a calm has moved [into] the hurricane of my life, and things have gotten very quiet, as quiet as this recording studio," he added. "And I like it. I find that I like myself better. I'm easier on people. I'm easier on myself. And the beat goes on, and it will go on long after I'm gone."

In 2018, days shy of his 77th birthday and amid his 50th anniversary tour, Diamond announced that he would be retiring from touring following the diagnosis. The lifetime achievement Grammy Award winner has kept a low profile since, although he notably performed a "Sweet Caroline"-set hand-washing PSA at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

But right now, the songwriter, whose other hits include “America,” “Love on the Rocks” and “Hello Again," is seeing his life play out onstage in the Broadway musical "A Beautiful Noise," which is based on his life.

"It all was pretty hard. I was a little embarrassed. I was flattered and I was scared,” the showman said of the musical. "Being found out is the scariest thing you can hope, because we all have a facade. And the truth be known to all of them: I’m not some big star. I’m just me."

Will Swenson ("Waitress," "Les Misérables") plays a young Diamond and Mark Jacoby ("Sweeney Todd," "Elf") plays the post-retirement performer in the production, which opened in December at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City. This week, producers announced that "A Beautiful Noise" will embark on a multi-year North American tour launching in Providence, R.I., in the fall of 2024.

Diamond made a surprise appearance with his family during the show's opening night and led a singalong of his 1969 hit "Sweet Caroline" during the show's curtain call. It was the Brooklyn-bred entertainer's first performance in his hometown of New York since 2017, Deadline reported.

Diamond's full interview airs Sunday on CBS and will stream on Paramount+.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.