Diamond reveals his sweet inspiration

IT IS his best-known song, but for decades Neil Diamond refused to say who inspired Sweet Caroline.

But he has finally let the cat out of the bag, confessing to an audience that it was Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, the daughter of president John F Kennedy.

"I've never discussed it with anybody before - intentionally," the 66-year-old US singer said. "I thought maybe I would tell it to Caroline when I met her someday."

He explained the song's origins after he performed it via satellite during a party to mark her 50th birthday last week. Diamond said he was a "young, broke songwriter" when a photo of the president's daughter in a news magazine caught his eye.

"It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony," Diamond recalled.

"It was such an innocent, wonderful picture. I immediately felt there was a song in there."

Years later, staying in a hotel in Memphis, he would write the words and music in less an hour.

"It was a No1 record and probably the biggest, most important song of my career, and I have to thank her for the inspiration," he said.

"I'm happy to have gotten it off my chest and to have expressed it to Caroline.

"I thought she might be embarrassed, but she seemed to be struck by it and really, really happy."

The hit recently reappeared on the singles chart, thanks in part to the Boston Red Sox baseball team, which plays it at every home game.

Caroline Kennedy married Edwin Schlossberg, a designer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in 1986 and they have three children.

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