Legendary singer/songwriter Neil Diamond performed an intimate show for firefighters who have been battling the Lake Christine fire in Colorado, which has scorched more than 12,000 acres since early July. Diamond, who announced that he was retiring and cancelling a planned 50th anniversary tour in January following a Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis, lives in the area and performed as a personal thank you to those who have been working hard to contain the blaze, according to local media.
“I love these faces,” he told the audience of fire and logistical personnel gathered at Basalt High School on Friday evening. “I want to take you all home. I want to give you a kiss. I want to make dinner for you. I just want to say thank you from the people of this area… I’ve been here for 20 years, and you made everybody happy. The heaviness on our hearts is gone… We thank you for making the trip and to our local guys as well.”
The inferno has drawn more than 1,500 into the area near Basalt, which is close to famed ski haven Aspen and Snowmass. It has been largely contained as of this week, with 90% of the perimeter contained, according to the incident website. The fire was allegedly started by two individuals using tracer rounds at a firing range, which could land them in prison for up to six years if they are found guilty of the felony arson charges they currently face over the sparking of the fire, which has consumed over 12,500 acres, according to the Aspen Times.
Diamond performed his hit “Sweet Caroline” for firefighters and their families during the Friday assembly.
Upon his retirement in January, Diamond stated that he would continue to write and record music despite his stepping away from the touring life at age 76. He was honored in January with the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Previously, he was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
“It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring,” Diamond said in a release announcing his retirement. “I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years. My sincerest apologies to everyone who purchased tickets and were planning to come to the upcoming shows.”