It has happened. Neil Diamond has gotten onstage and performed with the Neil Diamond cover band, Super Diamond. Yes, the Neil Diamond: “Cracklin Rosie”, “Sweet Caroline”, “America”. Now wait just a fucking second here, you may say. This isn't something that's even possible, it makes no sense. If Neil Diamond got onstage with a Neil Diamond cover band, the Earth would stop rotating. Or the Earth would explode. It’s too strong an anomaly, or paradox, and it isn’t comprehendible. I’m talking no more air, no more ice caps. Locusts everywhere.

But it has happened, more than once. The first time was at the Hollywood House of Blues in 2000. Neil got onstage with San Francisco based Super Diamond and sang “I Am I Said.” And there were no locusts. Cover bands are a risky business. Pulling it off well is incredibly tricky. Super Diamond has been doing it for sixteen years. (See them on Letterman, and hear Neil talk about them — here.) Can you imagine going to see a Led Zeppelin cover band, and having the real Robert Plant come out and sing? Or seeing Hell’s Belles and having Angus Young come out to solo? Or imagine it from the band’s perspective, getting to play with the person you’ve been covering.

I tracked down members of Super Diamond for further investigation:

What was it like to actually be onstage with Neil Diamond? Your “Surreal” Neil and real Neil onstage at the same time? Isn't that some form of paradox? Or shouldn't the earth stop rotating? Like a Y2K? Maybe a school of whales beached themselves? Were there locusts?
Randy Cordero (Singer / Guitar): Neil singing with us was amazing. He was super nice, super cool, super friendly, and he already knew the songs! No locusts.

James Terris (Keyboard): It definitely felt like something strange, good or bad, might happen. One thing did stop, and that was the crowd at the House Of Blues on Sunset Strip.

How did it feel to actually perform with him?
Cordero: Words can't describe how it felt, especially the first time he sang with us. To meet your master and your mentor, and then jam with him? It also made my parents happy.

Terris: It was a surreal experience. I had played the song "I Am I Said" a hundred times prior to Neil singing it with us. As I started the beginning and watched Neil Diamond himself walk past me, I got tunnel vision. I thought, “God, is this happening?”

What did people in the crowd do when the real Neil Diamond walked out onstage?
Terris: There was dead silence. It was like the Twilight Zone episode where the guy could stop time and freeze everyone. The crowd just stared in wonder, curiosity, amazement? I think for a moment they weren't sure if he was real, or an impersonator.

Mr. Cordero, how does your voice differ from Neil's? If you had to compare? How do you approach singing the songs?
Cordero: Neil's voice differs from itself, really. His voice in the last two decades sounds so different from the first two. I'm a bigger fan of Neil's studio albums from the first two decades. I'm not as fond of his live albums from the 80's on. My voice doesn't sound like Neil's much, but styling it with Neil-isms makes it fit into the occasion, I think.

Real Neil with Super Diamond (And Jack Black)
  • Real Neil with Super Diamond (And Jack Black in White)

Explain the events leading up to Neil performing with you the first time? Was it gratifying?
Cordero: His people talked to our people, and we were instructed to meet backstage at our show at the Hollywood House of Blues at 9 PM, one hour before showtime. During our chat, I asked him if he'd like to sing a song, and he said yes!

Terris: Vince Charles, Neil's percussionist had been playing with us for a couple years when he wasn't on the road with Neil. Vince told us that he had spoken to Neil about us. Neil's son and daughter had come out to the shows a few times as well. It was definitely gratifying for me, but more like a strange dream, or out of body experience.

What did you say to him after? What did he say about it?
Cordero: I don't remember exactly what anyone said after either occasion, but it was in the ball bark of, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” And “You're welcome, you're welcome, you're welcome.”

Terris: I thanked him, and out of nervousness told him he had changed my life. I didn't mean it in a crazy fan sort of way, but genuinely thankful that he has been so cool with what we do.

And he sang with Super Diamond again? How did that come about?
Cordero: The second time Neil sang with us was for the Saving Silverman premiere party. We were contacted and hired to play the party after the screening. Neil and the cast joined us onstage for two songs, “Cherry Cherry” and “Forever in Blue Jeans”. We were instructed a day or so before that we would be playing "Cherry Cherry" and possibly "Forever in Blue Jeans". So I told the band to transition right into "Forever in Blue Jeans".

Terris: I think it was Columbia Pictures that released the movie. They wanted Neil to play a few songs with the cast at the film's release party, again at the House of Blues. He asked us to back him up, it was an honor, and a ton of fun.

Do you all stay in touch with Neil?
Cordero: We met with Neil again a third time, and we await the day we meet him again. We don't want to be pushy, so we'll just be waiting. A Harley ride across America would be sweet.