Formed: 1953, Toronto, Ontario
Last Hit: 1961
- Dave Somerville (lead)
- Phil Levitt (baritone) – Replaced by Mike Douglas 1957
- Bill Reed (bass) (died 2004) – Replaced by John Felten 1958 (died 1982)
- Ted Kowalski (tenor) – Replaced by Evan Fisher 1958
Achievements: Canadian Music Hall of Fame
“Little Darlin’” (1957)
- Peaked at #2 on the charts
- 6th biggest single of the year (Cashbox)
Some Other Hit Singles:
- “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” (1956)
- “The Church Bells May Ring” (1956)
- “Words Of Love” (1957)
- “Zip Zip” (1957)
- “Silhouettes” (1957)
- “The Stroll” (1957)
- “Kathy-O” (1958)
- “Walking Along” (1958)
Canada‘s third and final famous quartet in the 50s was The Diamonds. Like the Four Lads and Crew Cuts, they were also from Toronto; unlike those two, the members were not from St. Michael’s Boys Choir. Their road to fame was similar to the Crew Cuts as we’ll see in a minute.
The band’s founding member Levitt said the beginnings of the Diamonds came when he was vacationing with a friend one summer at Crystal Beach on Lake Erie. Some girls heard them singing and encouraged them to continue. That autumn, Levitt entered the University of Toronto and met Ted Kowalski. Later on, they went to the CBC to audition for a local talent show where they met sound engineer Dave Somerville who decided to give them vocal training. He joined them as their lead singer when they were invited to sing for a Christmas party at a local church. It was then that the Diamonds were born.
The group began to work on radio shows for the CBC and Nat Goodman became their manager. He got them an appearance on the same show that launched The Crew Cuts’ career—Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Show—in Cleveland, U.S.A.. They tied with another contestant and their prize was to perform as guests of the show for a week. This led to a recording contract with Coral Records. Four songs were released but did little to bring fame to the group.
In 1955, they played the Alpine Village Club in Cleveland and were discovered by the same deejay as The Crew Cuts—Bill Randle. Like the Crew Cuts, Randle got them signed onto Mercury Records who asked them to do cover tunes, converting R&B songs to pop. These covers became big hits and included Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers’ “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” (#12 on the U.S. charts), The Willows’ “Church Bells May Ring” (#14), and their biggest hit, which reached #2 on the charts, The Gladiolas’ “Little Darlin’”. The latter was listed as the 6th biggest single of 1957 according to Cashbox. On December 30th, 1957, they released an original song, “The Stroll” which peaked at #4 on the charts, made them a dance sensation on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, and launched a dance craze of the same name. In the late-50s, The Diamonds appeared with a number of big-name acts on TV: Elvis Presley, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Steve Allen and Jimmy Dean. They were also featured in the movie musical The Big Beat and sang the theme song for Kathy-O. The band scored their last hit in 1961.
With a number of personnel changes and the expiration of their record contract, the group focused on touring for the next few decades. Apparently they made it to the country charts in 1987. They were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.