The Diamonds were a Canadian singing group that had more than a dozen top forty hits in the late Fifties and early Sixties.
The group first came together in Toronto in 1953. The original members were lead singer Dave Somerville, baritone Phil Leavitt, tenor Ted Kowalski and bass Bill Read. In 1955 they had a contract to record on the Coral label but by January of 1956 they had switched to Mercury, a label on which they would record all their subsequent hits. In March of that year the Diamonds came up with their first top forty hit, a cover of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers' Why Do Fools Fall In Love.
The Diamonds were a white group that recorded covers of R&B hits that had been recorded by black artists -- a practice that was common in the record industry at the time -- and they were one of the best in the business at it. Usually the procedure would be that the original recording of a song by an R&B group would show up on the R&B chart, be covered by a white artist, and then more often than not see more widespread sales when the cover by the white artist shot up the pop chart. The Diamonds turned out more hits in 1956 -- The Church Bells May Ring, Love, Love, Love and Ka-Ding-Dong.
Maurice Williams had written a song called Little Darlin' and recorded it with his group, the Gladiolas. The Diamonds liked it and made their own recording on Mercury, and it turned out to be their most successful record ever. Little Darlin' sat in the number two position on the pop chart for a full eight weeks in early 1957. More big hits kept coming: the Diamonds' version of Buddy Holly's Words Of Love, Zip Zip, and a cover of the Rays' Silhouettes (top ten in the version by the Diamonds). Another huge hit for the group was The Stroll in early 1958, a song inspired by a dance done to Chuck Willis' hit C.C. Rider.
Inevitably there were personnel changes in the Diamonds. Leavitt was replaced by Michael Douglas in 1958, and the following year Reed and Kowalski left and were replaced by Californians John Felten and Evan Fisher. Changes to personnel continued, but so did the hits: High Sign, Kathy-O, and Walking Along in 1958, and She Say (Oom Dooby Doom) the following year. The group's last top forty pop record came in 1961 with One Summer Night.
In the early Sixties talented black artists with good material began to become more prominent and the beginnings of what came to be known as soul music could be heard on the airwaves. The style that had been so successful for the Diamonds was no longer in vogue, but the group managed to continue on, performing in clubs and in concerts, even though the hits stopped coming. The Diamonds continued with different lineups of performers and different musical styles -- even singing country music for a few years -- for decades to come.
The Diamonds comprised a very talented group of singers. They are best remembered for two of their top ten hits from the late Fifties: Little Darlin' and The Stroll.
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