Veteran crooner Neil Diamond stunned the audience at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday by delivering a rambling speech as he accepted his prestigious honor.
The singer became rock royalty as part of the Class of 2011, receiving the accolade at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel alongside other stars including Alice Cooper, Tom Waits and Dr. John. Speaking before the big bash, Diamond revealed he had made a dash from Australia to the U.S. to accept the honor in person - and it appeared the jetlag had caught up with him as he stepped onto the podium after being introduced by his rock pal, Paul Simon.
An excited Diamond began snapping photos of the crowd giving him a standing ovation on his camera phone, before telling the audience: "Here I am. I'm sorry I didn't write a speech. I just got off tour from Australia, I did a show two days ago, I got on a plane, commercial, yesterday. I've been flying my a** off for 45 hours, got in this morning. I have no idea where we are... What are we doing here? What the heck is going on right here?"
As fans screamed from the ballroom balcony, he marveled at the admiration and then jokingly took aim at the audience, saying, "They love me! They're crazy. But I love them, and I love you too, even though you didn't vote for me. I don't give a s**t!"
An unfocused Diamond continued, "I'm flying back tomorrow to Sydney f**king Australia because they love me there! And I'm gonna keep going back 'til they stop loving me!"
Diamond ended his acceptance speech by taking a few more pictures of the audience to post on his Twitter.com blog, before bizarrely declaring, "What time is it? What day is it? And what the f**k is this country?!"
The singer continued to entertain attendees later on in the show when he returned to the stage for the finale to perform an encore of his smash hit Sweet Caroline - even inviting Bruce Springsteen to sing a line of the track for him.
Guests including Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael J. Fox and retired tennis ace John McEnroe all rose to their feet, clapping and singing along to the tune.
The performances by the other inductees were all about collaborations: Alice Cooper received a little help on School's Out from the Ronald McDonald House Choir; Tom Waits duetted with Neil Young, and funk icon Dr. John played piano with John Legend.
Darlene Love also hit the stage with Bruce Springsteen and then duetted with Bette Midler, and Leon Russell was joined by John Mayer on guitar.
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