Metro Weekly

David Carlin King Sparkles Like a Diamond

David Carlin King brings his show of Neil Diamond hits to the fabled Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Virginia this weekend.

David Carlin King
David Carlin King

“Neil Diamond wrote anthems to his heart and to his feelings and all — all of his songs — are about him,” says David Carlin King. “They’re the story of his life.”

King is somewhat of an expert on Neil Diamond, the singer-songwriter who was omnipresent on American radio in the sixties and seventies. Diamond, whose greatest hits endure to this day — “Sweet Caroline,” “I Am…I Said,” “Shiloh” — retired from touring in 2018 due to an ongoing struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. But King has picked up the gauntlet and his “Neil Diamond Tribute,” which he performs with his group, The Gold Diamond Band,” will play The Birchmere on Sunday, Feb. 18.

“We’re not a tribute band,” emphasizes King. “This is like a Broadway act. It comes along with a narrative. I go through each of the stories about the songs.” And, according to King, each song in the 20-plus setlist has a story connected to Diamond’s life.

King’s own life has traveled its own interesting path. A career singer-songwriter, he’s been out as a gay man for decades, married to a partner with whom he owns and operates the luxurious KingsBay Mansion in Marion, Md. But he got his start in the evangelical world in the ’80s, creating orchestral arrangements for Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s PTL Club. Eventually, life buried deep in the closet got to him.

“I just had to come away from all that, because gay and Jesus didn’t go together,” he says. “There was no way that I could exist as a whole person.”

King “always had a fascination with Neil Diamond because, number one, he was popular back during the Vietnam War, and I wondered how all this happy, peppy music survived in the middle of this angry war stuff. How does this man tell such a complicated story with such simple poetry and such simple chording?”

He points out that the 1966 hit “Cherry, Cherry” is only three chords. “Rolling Stone magazine called it one of the best three-chord song of all times,” he says, adding that the in the show he isn’t trying to trick audiences into thinking they’re seeing a facsimile of Neil Diamond.

“I don’t try to impersonate Neil,” he says. “I do an interpretation of Neil. I’ve been performing as David Carlin King for so long, I can’t help but be myself. But I definitely sound like him on some of the songs.”

King loves much of the material, though there is one number that grates on him — “Song Sung Blue,” which is too “sing-songy” for his tastes.

“I have a visceral reaction to that song,” he says, adding that the song remains the show’s closer because audiences adore it so much. “I do it as a sing-along,” he grins. “I have other lyrics for it, and I start having fun with the audience, you know?”

King is in the process of launching a new show based on the hits of the ’70s. Called “The Soaring ’70s,” it will include songs by Elton John, Billy Joel, Bad Company, and James Taylor, to name a few. During his days as a songwriter, King was hired by Mattress Discounters to write a jingle, the results of which — “Lay on it. Play on it. Save on it. Pray on it. Have a good night’s sleep on us.” — are, to this day, embedded in the DMV’s collective memory.

“I will sing the Mattress Discounters at The Birchmere,” says King. “I’m kind of my own person, and I can’t shove away at 45 or 50 years of performing and not be David King, because that’s who I am.”

David Carlin King and the Gold Diamond Band perform a Tribute to Neil Diamond on Sunday, Feb. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. in Alexandria, Va. Tickets are $45. Visit

For more information about Kingsbay Mansion, visit

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