Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

The Transitive Nightfall Of Neil Diamond

I’ll stand up for Neil Diamond’s songwriting, and the voice he had as a young person (Neil Diamond was never a kid), and his Semitic Prince Valiant haircut, but he was never cool and has only gotten schmaltzy with age. I cannot recommend watching the above video, but–again proving that the Dead is everywhere, maaaan–Neil’s drummer (for many years now) is the Ronnie Tutt of drummers, the actual Ronnie Tutt.

After Elvis and Garcia, perhaps Ronnie was looking for a more predictable and/or sober bandleader. (Elvis and Garcia could be predictable as hell when they wanted to be, but it wasn’t the good kind of predictable.) No more lunatics or junkies or British wastrels on piano: professional management, top-notch travel, great pay. Sure, Neil wouldn’t stand for half the bullshit he used to get up to with Elvis–Ronnie pretty much soloed for the whole show with the King–but he’d never have to have another conversation with Red or Joe Esposito. Elvis hung out with some dumb motherfuckers.

I’d ask if he misses the chaos at all, but I don’t think Ronnie Tutt does, not in the slightest. Interviews with the man reveal an insanely low tolerance for foolishness; even lower for fucking up the time. To drop a beat while playing with Ronnie Tutt was an insult: it was implying you disagreed with Ronnie Tutt about where the one was, and Ronnie motherfucking Tutt knows where the one is.


  1. Here’s a weird rock tributary–Neil Diamond opening for The Mothers Of Invention, and backed by members of the Mothers. Really. It’s hard to make stuff up.

    The best source (who happened to be a guy I went to Junior High with, but that doesn’t impugn him) suggests that bassist Roy Estrada and drummer Jimmy Carl Black (“The Indian Of The Group”) backed Neil Diamond that night, prior to playing a set with the Mothers.

  2. Emory Gordy, Jr., from Elvis’ TCB Band also played with Neil. These guys knew how to make a showman’s show.

  3. Saw a Springsteen cover band (Tramps Like Us) at B.B. King’s on 42nd a few years ago and Ronnie was in the audience. Band gave him a shoutout from the stage. He looked good.

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