Brother Love -- Gary Day's heavy-metal tribute to Neil Diamond -- came about, he says, because of American Idol forerunner Your Big Break. "In 2001 a camera crew from Dick Clark Productions came down to San Diego looking for singers who could sound like famous artists, and they auditioned 400 people at the Windsock. I was sick with a fever, but a friend forced me to go. I learned about the audition at the last minute, arrived late, and my friend had to haggle with them to let me try out with 'Love on the Rocks. '"
Two weeks later producers requested a video of Day singing Diamond songs in a karaoke bar, with no guarantee that it would air. "I did make the TV show, which aired nationally in prime time," says Gary.
Gary explains that it takes around 20 hours to reduce a Diamond arrangement from a 22-piece band with strings to a standard rock configuration. "I keep the Diamond character pretty close visually and actually become him vocally in both my acts. Brother Love is all heavy-metal arrangements, but I also do a second set as Steel Neil, performed to original arrangement tracks." He hasn't met Real Neil yet but says, "He [Diamond] knows who I am. Sony gave us permission to do the first CD...Neil's lawyers could have shut us down for an array of reasons by now if he didn't like us."
HOW DO YOU PICK SONGS TO COVER?
"We put together about 40 hit songs first, and along the way the guys in the band discovered a lot of B-side stuff that I had no idea they would like, being hard-rock musicians."
STAGE OUTFITS AND COSTS?
"The sequin shirts cost about $100 and were made by a guy in L.A. who I believe went out of business. The boots are $150, and the Vegas-style belts are about $50. I get the authentic '70s-era polyester slacks from thrift stores, and my favorite white scarf used to be a coffee table cloth. Add $125 for the Star of David necklace purchased in TJ, and the 1965 gold diamond ring is a hand-me-down from my dad."
WHAT DIAMOND SONGS HAVEN'T YOU COVERED?
"He's written and recorded so many songs that there are dozens we haven't done yet."
"It was at what is now called the Cow Shed in San Marcos in 2002. I had pneumonia and had to be injected with steroids to barely be able to perform. To this day I have never canceled a show."
FAVORITE TWILIGHT ZONE?
"I got rid of cable and have had so many of my own Twilight Zone experiences lately...I really can't remember any from the TV series."