Updated October 23, 2019 - 4:39 pm
Neil Diamond has announced his retirement from touring, but not from his support of philanthropic causes.
The pop-music legend, who halted live performances in January 2018, is to be the honoree at the 24th annual Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala on March 7 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. (Tickets are on sale now at keepmemoryalive.org/power-of-love-2020.)
Diamond is not expected to perform at the event.
The pop and rock superstar announced his decision to stop touring after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, one of the brain disorders treated at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. KMA is the charitable arm of the Ruvo Center, and the Power of Love event has raised tens of millions of dollars over the years to fund the facility’s operations and its myriad initiatives to combat brain diseases.
Diamond’s last performance was Aug. 12, 2017, at the Forum in Los Angeles. After his Parkinson’s diagnosis, he called off scheduled shows in Australia and New Zealand as part of his 50th anniversary world tour.
Diamond, 78, has a history of performances on the Strip dating to 1976, when he was the first entertainer to open the then-Aladdin Theater for the Performing arts (today Zappos Theater). Diamond’s last show in town was at Mandalay Bay Events Center in 2015.
An array of contemporary artists to be announced will pay tribute to Diamond. The night will include the usual, impressive array of star chefs, a live and silent auction, and the awarding of the Keep Memory Alive Caregiver Hero Award.
“We’re honored to have the legendary Neil Diamond join us to celebrate his remarkable and wildly successful career and to bring awareness to the devastating diseases the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health researches and treats, including Parkinson’s,” said Keep Memory Alive Vice-Chairwoman and Co-Founder Camille Ruvo. Ruvo added that Diamond’s participation is especially important in the fight against Parkinson’s, as nearly 1 million American’s suffer from the disease.
Diamond’s achievements, including 38 top-40 singles and more than 130 million records sold internationally, place him in Power of Love’s hierarchy of honorees. Over the years those honored have included Muhammad Ali, Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones with Michael Caine, Lionel Richie, Tony Bennett, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Andre Agassi and Siegfried Fischbacher.
The top-line entertainment has been a Power of Love hallmark. Bennett, Richie, Bono, Steven Tyler, Andrea Bocelli, Michael Bublé, Celine Dion, Snoop Dogg, Cee Lo Green, Enrique Iglesias, Jon Bon Jovi, Jennifer Hudson, LL Cool J, Lenny Kravitz, Barry Manilow and Stevie Wonder have performed over the years at the Grand Garden Arena.
Of legends and stars
Peter Noone, front man for the British invasion band Herman’s Hermits, was named Casino Entertainer of the Year at the seventh annual Casino Entertainment Awards (CEAs) last Wednesday at Vinyl at Hard Rock Hotel. He joined CEA Legend Awards winners Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandellas, and Venetian/Palazzo Executive Director of Entertainment exec Neil Miller.
The awards recognize outstanding casino artists and executives from across the country. Laugh Factory headliner Murray Sawchuck, who brought about half-dozen stage jackets to the show, hosted.
Longtime Vegas headliner and prolific songwriter Frankie Moreno was named Casino Musical Artist of the Year; Moreno continues to perform on select Thursdays at South Point Showroom along with his Tuesday dates at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz. Flamingo Las Vegas headliner Piff the Magic Dragon (legal name John Van der Put) was named Casino Comedian of the Year.
Penn Jillette, in introducing the Casino Comedian of the Year award, showed up in his Pop the Magic Dragon suit — which is the same design as Piff’s. Jillette said, talking of awards shows, “What I love is you have NO IDEA who is going to win. It’s always kept a tight secret.” Piff also wore the dragon suit, and was the only comedy nominee in the room.
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) October 18, 2019
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John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.