Six months Neil Diamond retired from touring due to Parkinson’s disease, the singer made a surprise return to the stage to perform a private mini-concert for firefighters battling a Colorado wildfire.
On Saturday, Diamond and his wife Katie McNeill visited the Incident Command post in Basalt, Colorado – near where Diamond lives – to thank the firefighters for their efforts in containing the Lake Christine Fire, which began on July 3rd and has already scorched 12,000 acres of land, Fox 31 Denver reports. The fire is now 45 percent contained.
“I want to take you all home, I want to give you a kiss, I want to make dinner for you, and I just want to say thank you from the people of this area for coming down and this town has not been this happy since… I don’t know,” Diamond told the hundreds of firefighters.
“I’ve been here for 20 years and you’ve made everybody happier. The heaviness on our hearts is gone and we know the cavalry is here and we say thank you to each of you for making this trip.”
Diamond then led the firefighters in an impromptu sing-along of “Sweet Caroline,” with the singer playing acoustic guitar for the performance.
In January, Diamond revealed that he would retire from touring effective immediately after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“I plan to remain active in writing, recording and other projects for a long time to come,” Diamond promised fans. “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.”