Before reading on, listen to this clip:
I’ve always loved the snappy electric guitar in Neil Diamond’s original recording of this song. These riffs continue throughout the entire recording, but I could never find out who played them. Remove the guitar from this recording and the song would suffer. A year ago, a web search turned up some interesting side notes, such as this forum entry <http://www.tdpri.com/threads/neil-diamond-thank-the-lord-for-the-nighttime.53339/> where folks were theorizing and postulating as to the identity of the guitarist. The most recent entry to the discussion was in 2006. In the discussion, one participant suggested the correct answer, but then ruled it out because of some mistaken belief that the musician was not ‘on the scene’ during the late sixties when the song was first recorded. The mystery continued.
Finally, last night I found this article: <https://www.vintageguitar.com/10499/a-small-part-of-the-60s/> in which author Dan Forte says: “A battery of acoustic guitars provided much of Diamond’s distinctive sound and Gorgoni, Charlie Macy, Bill Suyker, and Sal DiTroia are credited on The Bang Years” (Diamond’s first recording company was Bang Records). He interviews Al Gorgoni, one of the key studio musicians of the era, and he tells us:
As I recall, Neil played acoustic on the songs, and I played acoustic rhythm on at least three that I remember – “Solitary Man,” Hugh McCracken doubled on guitar and harmonica, while Eric Gale was the only one credited for ‘electric guitar’ – like the tremolo chords on “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon,” the backbeat chinks on “Red, Red Wine” and “Shilo,” the fuzz on “The Long Way Home,” and the opening hook and twangy solo on “Thank The Lord For The Night Time.”
So there you have the answer. I’ve since learned that Eric Gale was young at the time, He’d taught himself to play the guitar when he was 12 years old. Later in his career he embarked on a ‘jazz path’, yet popular artists still sought his talent for their projects. Paul Simon even gave him a role on his “One Trick Pony” movie.
In May 1994, at the young age of 55, Eric Gale passed away from lung cancer in Baja California. I don’t know the details surrounding his passing, but his home was in Los Angeles at the time. There were clinics operating in Mexico experimenting with alternative therapies.