Diamonds

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The group comprised Dave Somerville (lead), Ted Kowalski (tenor), Bill Reed (bass) and Phil Leavitt (baritone), all born in Toronto, Canada. A white vocal that specialised in cover versions of black R&B…
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The group comprised Dave Somerville (lead), Ted Kowalski (tenor), Bill Reed (bass) and Phil Leavitt (baritone), all born in Toronto, Canada. A white vocal that specialised in cover versions of black R&B hits, the Diamonds were formed in 1953, and, during the next two years, attracted a good deal of attention on the club circuit in America’s Midwest states. In 1955 they recorded several sides for Decca Records’ Coral Records label, including a cover version of the Cheers’ Top 10 single, ‘Black Denim Trousers And Motor Cycle Boots’. Early in the following year they moved to Mercury Records, a label already highly skilled in recreating existing hits, such as the Crew-Cuts’ version of ‘Sh-Boom’ (1954), which was first released by the Chords. The Diamonds made their initial impact for Mercury with ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love?’, a Top 10 hit for Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers in 1956. The Diamonds’ version made the US Top 20, and was followed, in the same year, by further successful substitutes for the originals, such as ‘Church Bells May Ring’ (Willows), ‘Little Girl Of Mine’ (Cleftones), ‘Love, Love, Love’ (Clovers), ‘Ka Ding Dong’ (G-Clefs)’ ‘Soft Summer Breeze’ (Eddie Heywood) and ‘A Thousand Miles Away’ (Heartbeats). ‘Little Darlin’ (1957), written by Maurice Williams when he was lead singer with the Gladiolas, before he went on to the Zodiacs, gave the Diamonds their highest US chart entry (number 2), and subsequently became something of a rock ‘n’ roll classic.

The group’s remaining Top 40 hits in the 50s were ‘Words Of Love’, ‘Zip Zip’, ‘Silhouettes’ (also a million-seller for the Rays), ‘The Stroll’, ‘High Sign’, ‘Kathy-O’ (a ballad, in a more easy listening style), ‘Walking Along’ and ‘She Say Oom Dooby Doom’. In 1958 Phil Leavitt retired and was replaced by Michael Douglas, and, in the following year, two Californians, Evan Fisher and John Felton (d. May 1982, California, USA), took over from Bill Reed and Ted Kowalski. The ‘new’ Diamonds continued to record throughout the early 60s and had one Top 30 entry with ‘One Summer Night’ in 1961. After the group split up, Dave Somerville formed a double act with ex-Four Prep, Bruce Belland, until the Diamonds re-formed in the early 70s. Despite Felton’s death in an air crash in 1982, the group continued to tour, and was especially popular on the county fair circuit into the 90s.