Days shy of his 77th birthday, legendary singer, songwriter and performer Neil Diamond announced that he will be retiring from touring due to a recent Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. The “Sweet Caroline” crooner was slated to begin the third leg of his 50th Anniversary tour this March in Australia and New Zealand.
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“It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring,” Diamond says in a statement given to E! News. “I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years.”
Though the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer will heed his doctor’s advice to stop touring, fans will be relieved to hear that he plans to “remain active in writing, recording and other projects for a long time to come,” according to the statement.
“My thanks goes out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world. You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement,” he says. “This ride has been ‘so good, so good, so good’ thanks to you.”
But what does the diagnosis mean for the multihyphenate artist? According to the Cleveland Clinic, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain. When these nerve cells die they stop producing dopamine, which acts as a messenger for brain cells that control key functions like movement and coordination.
Hand tremors are often the first sign of Parkinson’s, Time reports. Slowness in movement, difficulty walking and eating, speech problems and depression are also symptoms, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Though doctors aren’t totally sure about what causes the disease, it mainly affects older people, with the average age of onset being 61.
There’s no cure for Parkinson’s, but the University of Maryland Medical Center notes that the disease itself isn’t fatal. And medications, physical therapy and diet and exercise can be used to help reduce symptoms.
Diamond will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at Sunday’s Grammy ceremony, according to CBS. We wish him the absolute best!
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What’s your favorite Neil Diamond song? Has Parkinson’s disease affected anyone in your life? Share your thoughts in the comments section.