The Diamonds

The Diamonds. This rock and roll vocal quartet was formed in early 1953 at the University of Toronto by baritone Phil Levitt (b 9 Jul 1935), lead Stan Fisher, tenor Ted Kowalski (b 16 May 1931; d 8 Aug 2010), and bass Bill Reed (b 11 Jan 1936, d 22 Oct 2004).

The Diamonds

The Diamonds. This rock and roll vocal quartet was formed in early 1953 at the University of Toronto by baritone Phil Levitt (b 9 Jul 1935), lead Stan Fisher, tenor Ted Kowalski (b 16 May 1931; d 8 Aug 2010), and bass Bill Reed (b 11 Jan 1936, d 22 Oct 2004). The group met Dave Somerville (b Guelph, Ont, 2 Oct 1933) at the CBC where they auditioned for Pick the Stars, and Somerville tutored the group until Fisher decided to leave the quartet and Somerville became the lead vocalist.

After an appearance on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, an American variety show, the group signed a short-term contract with Coral Records, and later with Mercury Records. From 1955-61 they recorded three albums, and in the years that followed released several compilation albums. They recorded 65 singles, including three that went gold: "Little Darlin'" (1957), "Silhouettes" (1957), and "The Stroll" (1958, precipitated a dance craze of the same name).

In 1957, baritone Phil Levitt was replaced by Mike Douglas.

Like the Crew-Cuts, the Diamonds recorded several cover versions of rhythm-and-blues recordings. "Little Darlin'" (previously recorded by The Gladiolas) and "The Stroll" were listed by Cashbox, a US weekly music magazine, as the 6th and 30th most popular singles of 1957 and 1958 respectively. Some of The Diamonds' hits were included in the anthology Solid Gold Rock 'n' Roll (2-Mer 61371/2).

The singles "Little Darlin'" and "Where Mary Go" were included in the 1958 movie The Big Beat. The Diamonds also performed the title songs for the films Kathy O' (1958) and The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962).

In 1958, tenor Ted Kowalski was replaced by Evan Fisher and bass Bill Reed was replaced by John Felten. In 1961 Dave Somerville was replaced by Jim Malone. Despite the changing members, the Diamonds continued to perform in American and Canadian nightclubs.

The original members of the Diamonds, together with the Crew-Cuts and the Four Lads, received the Juno Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984. In 2000 and 2004, the original four members received national attention when they performed on the PBS productions of Doo-Wop 51, and Magic Moments -The Best Of '50s Pop.

The Diamonds were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame (2004), and the Doo-Wop Hall of Fame (2006), both in the US.


Further Reading

  • Lacey, Liam. "Canada's kings of doo-wop," Toronto Globe and Mail, 1 Dec 1984