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Seven Questions with Tribute Artists Super Diamond


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You might not know Randy Cordero by his given name. Most people don’t. Most people know Cordero by his stage persona: Surreal Neil. Cordero fronts what might be the greatest Neil Diamond tribute band in history, Super Diamond. Indeed, their show arguably transcends the aging original’s these days—bringing a more youthful vitality to the music that makes the world sing way more than Barry Manilow could ever hope to. Here, Cordero talks about meeting his idol, enormous ladies’ underwear and hanging with Fred Savage.

French Davis: Out of all the artists you could have formed a tribute band around, why Neil Diamond? Tell the truth: You were looking to pick up cougars before anyone knew the term, weren’t you?
Ray Cordero: I didn’t really plan on starting a tribute band. My parents had bought me an 8-track of Neil Diamond’s greatest hits (when I was a child) and we’d just sing along in the car. Well, I’ve always been able to do voices, so I learned a Neil Diamond song and I’d played it in Tempe—“Sweet Caroline,” I think it was. It brought the house down. So I started throwing in a Neil Diamond song every show I did. I’d do one of his songs every time and it evolved slowly that way. 
  
FD: What was it like the first time you met Neil?
RC: I think I was actually more nervous the second time I met him. Maybe it was the pressure of it all, as I was trying not to be annoying or to ask stupid questions. He’d met us before a show and then he sang with us. It was so very cool.
  
FD: Which song is your favorite?
RC: It would be the songs that we don’t play. His more mellow stuff is the best. “Glory Road,” and the “Singer Sings his Song,” “I’ve Been This Way Before”…But we don’t play those—mainly because we don’t want to bum people out.  
 
FD: What about your own music? Every thought about hanging up the Neil cape and donning one exclusively yours?
RC: I get the best of both worlds. I do my own music too. I travel the country spreading the word of Neil and do my own music on the weekdays. It has really opened a lot of doors for me and I get to be around these huge audiences having such a great time.
 
FD:  What’s the most memorable thing that’s been thrown on stage at one of your performances?
RC: Once I got this XXX-L Bra thrown on stage. That was interesting.
 
FD: Aside from Neil himself, who are some of your most famous fans?
RC: Hmm, Fred Savage at the House of Blues in Hollywood was pretty cool. He sang on stage with us. Caroline Rhea. Of course she sang “Sweet Caroline” with us. We’ve had David Spade, Rob Schneider, Tom Cavanagh, a lot of musicians, Neil’s band members, of course Neil himself too. The second time Neil sang with us, it was with the rest of the cast of the movie Saving Silverman too, so we also had Amanda Peet and Jason Biggs.
 
FD: What advice would you give a young musician looking to form his own tribute band?
RC: I would say if you have to sit down and think, “Who should I form a tribute to?” then you probably shouldn’t do it. If you love singing someone’s songs for only enjoyment—maybe don’t do it. I’ve seen so many people do it for money or for popularity, but there really is no real formula. You have to build up an audience and you have to play every show like it is your last show when you are in a tribute band. You don’t get to do your own music much. I’m lucky in that sometimes I get to open for myself. Though it costs me money every time I do original material. I make the money from the tribute stuff but then I pay money to play my own music because I pay the guys in the band.

Author

French Davis
Meet Dave Flomberg | Writer, musician, creative director (aka French Davis). There is so much to say about Dave aka French that we think you should read these articles: https://yellowscene.com/2020/02/29/french-davis-a-master-of-many/ ••• https://shoutoutcolorado.com/meet-dave-flomberg-writer-musician-creative-director

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