Monday, June 1, 2009

Dave Somerville and The Diamonds

A month or two back we were discussing the fact that one of our readers had seen The Diamonds in concert ... and whether or not this was, in fact, the REAL Diamonds performing that night.

After a number of comments and conversations surrounding this topic since then, I was pleased to receive a phone call from Dave Somerville, the original lead singer of the band, who explained the legalities of just what's going on here!!!

Dave explained to me that several years ago he sold the rights to the name "The Diamonds" to the artists who are currently out there performing under that name these days. (In fact, he ALSO told me that at one time there were as many as FIVE different groups performing in concert as The Diamonds ... talk about confusing the public!!!)

The group our reader saw is the group who currently has the LEGAL use of the name ... generally, fourth and fifth generation members of the group. (Somerville also mentioned that things might be a little bit less confusing ... and misleading ... if the group performed as "Gary Owen's Diamonds" instead, making it clear that he is NOT a member, as it sounds like any number of times each year fans in the audience are screaming things out like "Where's Dave?" or "Where's Diamond Dave"!!! lol)

Quite honestly, it shouldn't be too hard to find Dave ... he's been performing non-stop for 55 years now. During our phone conversation, he told me:

DAVE SOMERVILLE: I haven't had a day job in 55 years. I just shared the bill with Bobby Rydell ... and this is after coming back from Hawaii where I performed mid-ocean shows for two weeks. In recent months, I've been to Hawaii, Australia, Spain, South Africa and then back to Vancouver, performing literally all over the world ... and it seems like it's getting BIGGER. This music isn't fading out ... it's more popular than ever."

FORGOTTEN HITS: Sounds like a tough way to earn a living!!! (lol)

DS: Yeah, it is ... but SOMEBODY's gotta do it! (lol)

Dave also did over 400 shows in Branson where he performed for two years ... and he's having the time of his life. It seems like NOTHING gets this guy down!!!
DS: "You know, NONE of the original members of The Diamonds owned the name ... that was something our manager screwed us out of ... but you don't want to hear THAT story ... it's too depressing."

As for his original singing partners, bass singer Bill Reed passed away a short while back and tenor Ted Kowalski and baritone Phil Levitt are both retired electrical engineers living in Toronto, without any further musical aspirations.

DS: The original group didn't play any instruments ... we just went up there and sang. The NEW version of The Diamonds are up there playing instruments and singing and dancing."

While The Diamonds are probably BEST remembered for their 1957 #2 Hit "Little Darlin'", they actually hit The National Pop Charts eighteen times and scored Top 40 Hits with their versions of Why Do Fools Fall In Love (#16, 1956); The Church Bells May Ring (#20, 1956); Love, Love, Love (#30, 1956); Soft Summer Breeze (#34, 1956); Ka-Ding-Dong (#17, 1956); Zip Zip (#36, 1957); High Sign (#21, 1958); Kathy-O (#37, 1958); Walking Along (#19, 1958); She Say (Oom Dooby Doom), #12, 1959; One Summer Night (#22, 1961); and their #1 Cash Box Hit, "The Stroll" back in 1958.

Somerville says he started singing "serendipitously's THAT for a word" in the hallways, never dreaming it would turn into a life-long career. He also directed me to YouTube, where a number of Dave Somerville videos are posted. (Check out the one called "Dave Does The Diamonds"!!!)
Click here: YouTube - Dave Does The Diamonds

All in all, a very nice, happy and humble man who has been able to enjoy life to the fullest doing what he loves to do the most. (Yes, we agreed that it's sometimes a drag when REAL life gets in the way ... but all in all, "I've been able to live my dream ... and I don't know TOO many people who can make THAT statement!!!")

For a REAL enjoyable listening experience, be sure to check out Dave's CD, "On The 1957 Rock And Roll Greyhound Bus" ... it's a fun look back at what it was like to be out on the road in the earliest days of Rock And Roll, alongside some of the biggest stars of this golden era. And Dave's in fine voice as he covers not only some of The Diamonds' biggest hits (Why Do Fools Fall In Love, The Stroll, Silhouettes, Church Bells May Ring, Ka-Ding-Dong, Zip Zip, High Sign, Daddy Cool and Little Darlin' are ALL here) but also shares some fascinating tales (along with some musical tributes) to Chuck Berry, The Drifters, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers and many others. Man, we would LOVE to see this show live ... but it also makes for some GREAT listening entertainment ... more details are available on Dave's website:
Click here: Welcome to Diamond Dave Somerville's Rock & Roll Greyhound bus

Meanwhile, here's a track ... and a musical history lesson ... from the CD ... proving once again how Dick Clark helped to write The History Of Rock And Roll!!!