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Johnny’s a real Diamond geezer

March 5, 2012

I'M A BELIEVER: In tribute act Johnny Rickard as Neil Diamond and Elvis.

IT will definitely be a case of Hello Again as Bedworth’s Johnny Rickard proved he’ll never be a Solitary Man when it comes to being the singing ‘spitting image’ persona of Neil Diamond.

Rickard breezed into Nuneaton’s number tribute showcase at the La Tavola Calda restaurant – and brought the house down in his debut performance.

He’s been around, performing as the artiste regarded as the third most successful singer of all time behind Barbra Streisand and Elton John, for 10 years now – about as along as the restaurant has been taking in tribute acts.

But he reminded his partisan audience: “This is the first time I’ve made it to La Tavola. I’ve waited a long time to come here.”

And then the 1976 winner of TV’s New Faces programme endeared himself to a new army of fans with the line: “They say that the best audiences in the UK are in Nuneaton. I reckon they’re right.”

In his two-hour show, Rickard certainly showed why he’s a much-in-demand tribute act.

He caroused the La Tavola audience with a large chunk of the Diamond repertoire from the Jazz Singer’s – Love On the Rocks, Hello Again, America and Robert E Lee – to number one hit favourites Song Sung Blue, Cracklin’ Rosie and You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.
Decked in a dazzling trademark shirt and scarf, Rickard finished his first set fittingly with the Diamond song written for The Monkees – I’m A Believer – as the world comes to terms with the premature death of ex-Coronation Street actor and the mega group’s frontman Davy Jones.

Minutes later Rickard returned for a second hour – dressed as an immaculate Elvis (he’s been doing him four years) and treating the diners to The King’s Return To Sender, Don’t be Cruel, Viva Las Vegas, Suspicious Minds, Blue Suede Shoes, All Shook Up and finishing with more rock numbers and back to Diamond with Daydream Believer and Sweet Caroline.

Former Radio 1 jock Paul Gambaccini, like Diamond born in new York, said of Bedworth’s Johnny Rickard: “Close your eyes and it’s as if Neil in the room with you.”

My tribute to you Johnny – you’re a Diamond geezer.

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