By Steven Halpern –
The passing of so many superstar musicians in 2016 had a profound impact on millions of people around the world. Whether you’re a fan, and/or a professional musician, you know how deeply Prince, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, and others touched your life from a distance.
Less well-known musicians are also leaving us. If you’re a fan of New Age music, you likely enjoy insightful album and video reviews that deepen your appreciation and love for the art forms. The New Age music community is already missing Michael Diamond, a much loved and respected San Francisco Bay area music producer, recording artist, and reviewer.
His passing has been particularly painful and shocking for me. He was one of my closest friends over the past 10 years, bonding beyond music and our guitar heroes, Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana; our love of the celestial orchestral sounds of our main synths; as well as our shared physical challenges. I was perhaps the last person to see him in his hospital room before he was to enter hospice. When I was abruptly awoken from a deep sleep by a bright light at 1:40 that morning, I knew he was saying goodbye.
Michael Diamond – Music and Media Focus
Michael was one of the few professional reviewers who combined well-honed journalistic skills with the insights of a musician. More than just reviewing an individual album, he would include relevant background to add context to provide the reader with a real sense of what the album sounded like, and what the intention behind the album was.
He understood that the role of a critic/reviewer included being an educator. That was the same tradition I was brought up with as a writer, and part of why we bonded so quickly. As reviewers, we often “compared notes” concerning albums. I invite you to check out his literary art at MichaelDiamondMusic.com. You can tell he spent a lot of time writing them. When he reviewed my album Deep Alpha, he picked up on subtle nuances that no other reviewer did.
When Michael had completed his first solo album, Atlantis Rising (2005), I mentored him in navigating the New Age market, distributing his follow-up album Indigo Moon (2008), as well. More recently in 2014, we worked together on Ambient Alchemy, which he considered his masterpiece.
No Such Thing as “Routine Surgery?”
Michael had postponed a “routine exploratory surgery” until December 15th, and it seemed to go smoothly. Two days later, however, he suffered a massive stroke due to post-op complications, and never fully recovered. Post-op mortality is far more common than I realized.
I had never dealt with a close friend having a stroke. Strokes often give no warning. Situations like this severely tested our spiritual principles and philosophies, as we endeavored to honor his DNR wishes, yet support potential recovery and healing.
He passed on January 27. As a sound healer, I was quite surprised at how un-healing the hospital and nursing home environments were. I’ve read that hearing is the last sense to go, so I brought in a CD player and left healing music on auto-repeat.
We were all struck by how insidious strokes are. I now understand why there are so many TV ads about strokes, ads that I never really paid attention to before. Perhaps you’ve gone through a similar awareness upgrade. Special thanks to all the nurses, doctors, healers, and caregivers who assisted Michael in his transition.
Michael’s sister, and two other close friends want to offer their words:
Michael started acoustic guitar lessons at the age of seven, and never put his guitar down. He started out playing folk music, and would come home every day from school, grab his guitar, and play for hours and hours. He later discovered the electric guitar (Jimi Hendrix, Santana), and wanted to be a rock and roll star till he found his true love–New Age music.
One of the biggest thrills he had was being the opening act for Ram Dass, who was giving a lecture at a university in Philadelphia in the early 1980s. It inspired him so much that he taught himself how to play keyboards.
He never went to music school, but had the knack to be able to pick up an instrument and start playing it.
When he passed away, we went to his studio and found his beloved acoustic guitar that had been hanging on his wall for years. When we took it down we were shocked to see the image and outline of that guitar [was] on the wall. It made us think that just as that guitar had left its mark on the wall, Michael had certainly left his mark on the world. — Sandy Diamond Milgram
Although my friend and spiritual brother Michael is primarily known as a musician and writer, he had also long been a visual arts creator. For example, his recent and extensive work creating beautiful videos for some of the same music he wrote about grew out of his prior years of multi-image slide show productions.
Michael also preferred to have such dynamic projected visuals accompany him in concert. At his request, I was honored to mix my own visual music creations live with several bands he played in over the last few decades. We also co-created a live audio/visual experience we titled Sacred Space. Michael also supplied soundtrack (sic) to several of my video productions, most notably my visual music video Illumination 2, (youtu.be/fTBh2w43x94) or (youtube.com/watch?v=fTBh2w43x94&feature=player_embedded,) released in 2009. — Ken Jenkins
Michael Diamond was not only a beloved friend, but also a wonderful bandmate and first class musician. His unique combination of tasteful synth textures and Santana-esque lead guitar was a key component of our group Spirit Rising. (reverbnation.com/spiritrising.)
Everyone who met him could tell what a laidback, loving, spiritual guy he was, but only his closest friends also knew what a delightfully wicked sense of humor he had. I miss him every day. — Jai Josefs, composer of "I Love Myself the Way I Am."
To learn more about Michael’s music and reviews, visit: michaeldiamondmusic.com.
(Note: Michael’s website will be back up shortly.) _______________________________________________________________________
Steven Halpern is a Grammy nominated, multi-platinum recording artist and pioneering sound healer.