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Shaw: Fond memories of Neil Diamond and one of the Fargodome's greatest concerts

Forum columnist Jim Shaw recalls Neil Diamond's 1996 performance at the Fargodome and his impromptu interview with the music legend a day later.

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Music legend Neil Diamond performs at the Fargodome in July of 1996. WDAY-TV / Submitted Photo
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FARGO — It was 25 years ago this week that the Fargodome held one of its greatest events.

Legendary musician Neil Diamond performed. Diamond dazzled the huge crowd of 20,112, which was then the second-largest crowd ever at the Dome since it opened four years earlier.

Diamond thrilled his many fans by singing such classic hits as “Cherry Cherry,” “Kentucky Woman” and “Solitary Man.” Two of those thrilled fans were myself and my wife, Jackie.

However, as I left the concert, I wasn’t satisfied. As a big fan, and a reporter for WDAY-TV, I wanted to meet and interview him. Mind you, Diamond’s staff made it very clear that he wasn’t doing any interviews. Still, I was going to try again. The worst he could do is say no.

I knew that most of the celebrities coming to Fargo, stayed at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Fargo. The next morning, Jackie was working at US Bank, across the street from the Radisson. From her office window, she could see the front of the Radisson. So, I asked her to be on the lookout for a big, fancy bus that would likely be transporting Diamond’s band.

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She called to tell me the bus had arrived. With that, myself and video photographer Erik Speer rushed over to the Radisson. With our camera and microphone out, we positioned ourselves right by the bus.

A few minutes later, a member of Diamond’s entourage approached us, asked who we were, and asked what we wanted. We told her, and she told us that Diamond is not doing any interviews. I told her we knew that, but asked her to ask him again. She then left. She came back to say that Neil would talk to us for 10 minutes. We were so excited!

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Music legend Neil Diamond gives an interview with WDAY-TV reporter Jim Shaw outside the Radisson in downtown Fargo. Diamond had performed at the Fargodome the night prior in 1996. WDAY-TV / Submitted Photo

Five minutes after that, Diamond came over to us. He couldn’t have been nicer.

“I thought the concert went unbelievably,” Diamond said. “I didn’t make the soundcheck, so I didn’t see that building until I actually walked out there. I was awed by the size of the place. The audience seemed together. It seemed like everybody had a good time, which means I had a good time too.”

I then asked him, “Will you come back to Fargo again sometime soon?”

“Absolutely,” Diamond said. “I am only sorry I haven’t been here sooner, but this building makes it possible to come and bring the whole show. So, I’m a happy guy.”

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With that, Diamond thanked me for the interview and boarded the bus.

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Neil Diamond (center) boards his tour bus after giving an interview to WDAY-TV reporter Jim Shaw (right). Diamond had performed at the Fargodome the night prior in 1996. WDAY-TV / Submitted Photo

The next day I received a call from Forum Editor Joe Dill, who was a friend of mine. He was upset. “How did you get that interview with Neil Diamond? We were told there would be no interviews,” Dill said.

I told him. He then said, “Well done.”

Diamond’s concert here led to many other big name acts coming to the Fargodome. He also kept his promise, as he came back to perform at the Dome in 2001. As for me, I got the thrill of a lifetime.

Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director. Email jimshawtv@gmail.com

Related Topics: FARGODOMECONCERTS
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