Neil Diamond thanks firefighters battling wildfire with surprise performance

Neil Diamond performs during the 49th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 14, 2018, in New York.PlayAP
WATCH Neil Diamond thanks firefighters battling wildfire with surprise performance

Times have not been good for those in the path of the Lake Christine Fire in Colorado, but legendary musician Neil Diamond reached out to thank firefighters in a surprise concert on Saturday.

Diamond performed for a couple hundred firefighters and rescue personnel, many of whom came to the area specifically to fight the fire, during a town hall on Saturday. He took the stage with just an acoustic guitar and a microphone stand.

"I want to take you all home, I want to give you a kiss, I want to make dinner for you, and I just want to say thank you from the people of this area for coming down and this town has not been this happy since ... I don't know," Diamond told the crews before his performance. "I've been here for 20 years and you've made everybody happier. The heaviness on our hearts is gone and we know the cavalry is here and we say thank you to each of you for making this trip."

Firefighters have swung the fight against the Lake Christine Fire in their favor recently. The fire, which has burned over 12,500 acres, is now 48 percent contained.

The U.S. Forestry Service also says it expects to have the fire fully contained by Aug. 2.

The "Sweet Caroline" singer lives in the Basalt, Colorado, area, where the fire is still burning, after it started July 3.

                                        PHOTO: Neil Diamond performs at the 2009 MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute, after being honored, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Feb. 6, 2009, in Los Angeles.                                                                        
                SLIDESHOW: IN PHOTOS: Neil Diamond through the years             

"We're gonna thank everyone for saving our community," Diamond's wife, Katie, said before he launched into a version of his most famous song. The crowd, of course, sang along.

Basalt is in a popular skiing area, just a few miles from Snowmass and less than 20 miles northwest of Aspen.

Diamond, 77, announced he was retiring from touring in January after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He's a member of both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He's had 22 albums go platinum (1 million sales) in the U.S., including live and greatest hits records.