Veteran performers Neil Diamond and Sir Elton John have both announced they are retiring from touring this week. Lucy Mapstone looks back at their careers

NEIL Diamond has been entertaining audiences for decades with his pop classics.

The American, who turned 77 today, confirmed on Tuesday he is to retire from touring after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, although he has assured fans that he plans to continue writing and recording music “for a long time to come”.

The singer-songwriter is one of the world’s biggest-selling artists of all time, with more than 125 million records sold since the 1960s.

Brooklyn-born Diamond started his music career at publisher Tin Pan Alley in New York, where he wrote songs after dropping out of a medical degree.

Some of his biggest early songwriting successes were The Monkees hits I’m A Believer and A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, and a litany of other artists went on to perform his tracks over the years, including Elvis Presley, Lulu and Deep Purple.

In 1966, he released his debut single as a recording artist, Solitary Man, followed by Cherry, Cherry, both of which appeared on his debut album, The Feel Of Neil Diamond.

A few years later, in 1969, he released Sweet Caroline, one of his most enduring and beloved songs.

Diamond’s other notable hits include his first number one in the US, Cracklin’ Rosie, and other 1970s anthems Song Sung Blue and Desiree.

His 1978 single You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, a duet with Barbra Streisand, is also regarded as one of his best.

While he has not managed to score a number one single in the UK among his plethora of top 10s, Diamond has topped the albums chart twice.

A true showman, much of Diamond’s career has been dominated by touring, having played across the world and repeatedly topped lists of the most profitable performers when on the road.

According to Billboard, Diamond raked in some $450 million from touring between 1990 and 2014, having taken to the stage in front of nearly nine million fans across more than 600 shows. In 2008, at the age of 67, Diamond was a headliner at the Glastonbury Festival, his debut at the rock music event.

SIR Elton John has spent much of his career on the road touring, and has performed to millions of fans all over the world.

He began performing aged 15 in 1962 under his birth name, Reggie Dwight, at a pub near his home in Pinner, Middlesex. By 1970 he was touring the US, where he became an instant success as he took to the stage in cities including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore and New York.

Over the past five decades, he has toured the UK, Europe, North America, South America, Oceania and Asia across thousands of concerts.

His touring and live performance highlights include:

*In 1974, Sir Elton was joined on stage at Madison Square Garden in New York by former Beatle John Lennon for a surprise appearance – one of Lennon's last live performances.

*In 1979, Sir Elton became the first international pop singer to perform in Soviet Russia.

*Sir Elton was one of the stars at 1985 benefit concert Live Aid at Wembley Stadium. He sang hits including I'm Still Standing, Bennie And The Jets and Rocket Man during the show. He also sang Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me with Wham! stars George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley.

*In 1991, Sir Elton joined Michael on stage at London's Wembley Arena on the final date of Michael's Cover To Cover tour for a rendition of the ballad.

*Sir Elton accompanied Eric Clapton on the rock star's world tour in 1992.

*In 1994, Sir Elton embarked on a series of Face to Face concert tour with Billy Joel in North America. Their union continued over the years, and they have been named the most successful concert duo in music history.

*In 1997, Sir Elton sang Candle In The Wind at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.

*Sir Elton was among the litany of stars performing at The Concert for New York City in October, 2001, a benefit event following the September 11 attacks.

*In 2004, Sir Elton kicked off his Las Vegas residency, called The Red Piano, at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The residency continued for several years until 2009 and also included touring stints in the UK and Europe in 2008 and 2009.

*In 2008, Sir Elton played the first major concert at Darlington Arena.

*His The Million Dollar Piano residency in Las Vegas kicked off in 2011 and will continue until May this year.