The show goes on: Jeff Diamond sings in Pine Island after losing multiple fingertips to COVID

In addition to Diamond, the concert included the band Audio Tatonka.

Jeff Diamond sings at the Olde Pine Theatre in Pine Island on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023.
Jordan Shearer / Post Bulletin

PINE ISLAND — When the lifelong guitarist Jeff Diamond woke up from a three-week coma in 2021, he realized his music career would have to change.

Doctors had removed the majority of his fingertips due to complications from COVID, rendering him no longer able to perform guitar. In spite of that, he's kept singing, adapting his performance to fit his new reality.

"I just didn't want to quit and give up," Diamond said. "Without my music, I don't know what I'd do."

The Twin Cities-based musician performed Saturday at the Olde Pine Theater in Pine Island. The concert was a benefit for Diamond, hosted by theatre owners Ted and Tricia Galaty.

Diamond initially lost eight fingers. He said the doctors were able to reattach one of his pinkies. The bout with COVID also affected his singing.


Judith Warrington and Daryl Schlinger dance at a benefit concert in Pine Island on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023.
Jordan Shearer / Post Bulletin

"Slowly my voice is coming back, (but) I can't hit the notes that I used to," he said. "I had to retool the whole persona and just the whole show."

He used a mix of pre-recorded music, a tambourine and a keyboard throughout the night. Once he lost his fingertips, he started playing keys again, which is what he learned first as a child before picking up the guitar.

He performs under the moniker "the human jukebox." Throughout the concert, he jumped from Elvis to Kenny Loggins to Bob Dylan to Elton John, among others, occasionally prodding the audience for requests.

The band Audio Tatonka opened for Diamond, performing a selection of slightly more modern numbers.

Diamond interspersed the set with a few stories from throughout his career, including a time when he had lunch with Bob Dylan's mother.

Even though he has kept performing, he's hopeful he might be able to play guitar once again someday since he's gotten prosthetic fingertips. It's just a matter of adapting them to the level of dexterity he needs.

"They look great," he said. "I'm hoping we can tweak them so I might be able to play my guitar again."

Troy Hrtanek of the band Audio Tatonka performs at the Olde Pine Theatre in Pine Island on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023.
Jordan Shearer / Post Bulletin

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or
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