Names and faces

Posted: January 24, 2018 at 3:47 a.m.
Updated: January 24, 2018 at 3:47 a.m.

Bill Cosby plays the drums at the LaRose Jazz Club in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 as his spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, and 11-year-old drummer Mekhi Boone look on.

Bill Cosby performed in public for the first time since a sex abuse scandal embroiled him in 2015, joking that he "used to be a comedian" and playing with a jazz band in his hometown as a retrial looms in his criminal sexual assault case. The 80-year-old entertainer took the stage for about an hour Monday night at a Philadelphia jazz club for his first show since May 2015. Before a friendly crowd, he told stories, honored old friends and finished by leading the band in a set, first using his mouth to scat in place of a missing horn section and then taking a turn at the drums. During the show, the crowd applauded and laughed along with Cosby's jokes, a far cry from how his previous performances went. His last comedy tour ended amid protests as about 60 women were stepping forward to accuse him of drugging and molesting them over five decades, something he has denied. Cosby is scheduled for an April 2 retrial on charges he drugged and molested a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He has pleaded innocent and remains free on bond. His first trial ended with a hung jury last year. Jury selection for his retrial will start March 29. Cosby's spokesman notified reporters of the comedy performance about two hours before he was to take the stage at the LaRose Jazz Club. The show was part of a program honoring jazz musician Tony Williams. Outside the jazz club there was one protester, a woman who frequently hounded Cosby at his trial last year. She played Helen Reddy's song "I Am Woman" on a loop and held up a sign that said, "Perseverance to all survivors."

Neil Diamond, one of America's most enduring songwriters best known for his singalong hits "Sweet Caroline" and "Cracklin' Rosie," announced Monday that he has Parkinson's disease. Diamond, who turns 77 today, said he is retiring from concert touring as a result of the diagnosis. "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 on his website. "My sincerest apologies to everyone who purchased tickets and were planning to come to the upcoming shows." Parkinson's disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that can cause tremors in the hands and arms, rigid muscles and speech changes such as slurring, according to the Mayo Clinic. Diamond made the announcement while in the midst of his "50 Year Anniversary World Tour." Diamond -- who has been nominated for 13 Grammy awards and won one -- will be given the coveted Lifetime Achievement Awards at Sunday's Grammy Awards. Even with Parkinson's disease, Diamond said he will continue writing and recording music. "My thanks goes out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world," he wrote.

In this Oct. 20, 2014 file photo, Neil Diamond performs on NBC's "Today" show in New York.

A Section on 01/24/2018