Legendary American singer-songwriter Neil Diamond is 'at a loss' to understand why he is suddenly at the centre of an intense and targeted hate campaign, he told journalists at a Las Vegas press conference.
In the last few days the 71-year-old musician – whose string of hits include Sweet Caroline, You Don't Bring Me Flowers and America – has received thousands of abusive emails, mostly from the UK.
One message read: 'You should be ashamed of yourself, you bastard, making billions out of other people's misery.' In response Diamond said: 'All I've ever done is try to reach out to people through my music. Sure, I've done well, but if my fans want to buy Love on the Rocks or The Jazz Singer, where's the harm in that?'
Diamond also fears that some emailers are preparing to attack other stalwarts of middle-of-the-road music, with one saying that 'it's time that you and your crooked friends stood aside and let people with integrity take over. Shit heads.' 'That's no way to talk about legends like Barbra Streisand and Andy Williams,' said Diamond, adding that he was 'deeply hurt and bewildered' by the attacks.
Diamond continued: 'I'm truly sorry if my songs have upset anyone. I know that Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon isn't to everyone's taste but I didn't imagine it could cause such offence.'
Diamond is not the only musician to have been the subject of inexplicable abuse in recent days. On the UK leg of its current world tour, Barclay James Harvest's bus was torched by an angry mob near Basingstoke.