Like The Crew Cuts, whose career they so closely followed, The Diamonds also came from Canada, where Ted Kowalski (tenor), Phil Levitt (baritone) and Bill Reed (bass) attended the University of Toronto.
In 1954, they auditioned for CBC-TV’s Now Is Your Chance and met David Somerville, who joined them as lead singer.
After a couple of flops on the Coral record label, they approached Cleveland disc jockey Bill Randle (who had discovered and assisted The Crew Cuts), and he placed them with Mercury and picked their songs, including Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers‘ Why Do Fools Fall In Love?
The Diamonds had a safe, successful formula from which they rarely strayed, grabbing songs which had just broken onto the R&B chart, recording them quickly with a slicker production and selling millions of copies to people who had never heard the originals.
Between 1956 and 1961, they ripped off R&B hits by The Willows (Church Bells May Ring), The Clovers (Love Love Love), The G-Clefs (Ka Ding Dong), The Heartbeats (A Thousand Miles Away), The Gladiolas (their version of Little Darlin’ spent eight weeks at #2 on the Billboard singles chart,) The Rays, The Solitaires and The Danleers. They notched up 15 Top 40 hits.
The Diamonds looked like rock’n’roll groups and – superficially – sounded like rock’n’roll groups. All they lacked was the feel and creativity of the black groups they squeezed off the pop charts.
But while these cover versions suppressed black performers, they also brought royalties to black songwriters who preferred a million-selling pop hit to an R&B hit, which reached less than 10 per cent of the record-buying public.
The Diamonds were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1984.
Bill Reed died in 2004 after a series of illnesses. He was 68. Ted Kowalski passed away in 2010 after a battle with heart disease. He was 79. Dave Somerville died in 2015 of pancreatic cancer. He was 81.
A touring version of The Diamonds still exists today but without any original members.