Neil Diamond to retire after Parkinson’s diagnosis: What to know

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer and songwriter Neil Diamond announced he will retire from touring after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, just days before his 77th birthday.

Diamond, who was on his 50th anniversary tour, cancelled upcoming shows in Australia and New Zealand for March, though the musician said he will still write, record and work on other projects.

“It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring. I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years,” Diamond said in a statement. "My sincerest apologies to everyone who purchased tickets and were planning to come to the upcoming shows.”

Parkinson’s effects about one million Americans, more than the combined number of people who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s, which can vary from person to person, include tremors, slowness of movements, limb rigidity and gait and balance problems.

“It’s due to a loss of dopamine in the brain—somewhere deep in the brain that makes dopamine. And we can replace the dopamine with medication,” Fox News medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on “Varney & Co.” on Tuesday. “The problem is people then get side effects from the medication, so a lot of research is ongoing in this.”

Siegel said Parkinson’s will likely have an effect on the muscles in Diamond’s throat, leading to complications to singing and speech, and that much research—particularly in the last decade—is being done to help medical experts gain a better understanding of the disease.

“We’re using now deep brain stimulators … where we literally implant a lot of electrodes in the brain … and re-stimulate that part of the brain, can improve movements,” he explained. “And then we’re looking for different models … different proteins that we can modify to give you a better result than from a drug called Sinemet, which is most commonly used.”

Raised in Brooklyn, New York, Diamond started his career writing songs for others at the famed Brill Building in Midtown Manhattan, including “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees, which reached No. 1 in 1966. The singer/songwriter himself reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart three times in the 1970s with “Song Sung Blue,” “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” a duet with Barbra Streisand, though he is most well-known for the song "Sweet Caroline."

Diamond will be honored by The Recording Academy with its Lifetime Achievement Award at the 60th annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 28.