The Tampa Bay music scene has seen countless bands come and go throughout the decades, some who were great, and some who were not so great. However, It takes an exceptional band to last 20 years in this scene and still maintain a high level of popularity. One of the few bands who has achieved this is none other then Diamond Gray.
Diamond Gray currently consists of Dennis Daley on lead vocals, Rocky Diamond on guitar, Mark Welsh on bass, and Brian "Bam Bam" Bradford on drums. On October 20th, Diamond Gray announced that they would be disbanding after they fulfill the remainder of their show commitments for 2013. This announcement brings with it an end to one of Tampa Bay’s most talented and long lasting bands... a band that's been a true staple in the Tampa Bay music scene for the past 20 years.
Diamond Gray originated when Guitarist Rocky Fever moved to the Tampa Bay area from San Antonio Texas along with a drummer friend. Their initial goal was to start playing on cruise ships, though it never manifested. The two friends eventually formed a band called The Gems, and Rocky Fever changed his name to Rocky Diamond. After The Gems, Rocky formed the Rocky Diamond Band. Eventually the Rocky Diamond Band would team up with lead singer Danny Gray, changing the band name to Diamond Gray in 1992.
Throughout the next 20+ years, the band would go through several lineup changes which would see numerous well respected and well talented local musicians come and go from the band. Simply put, Diamond Gray became a "Who's Who" of local A-circuit musicians. Some of these musicians included Tom "King" Cardenas (Stranger, Wiley Fox, Greg Billings Band), Kevin Rothney (Jon Oliva’s Pain, Circle II Circle), Mike Townsend, Todd Dyer, Jeff Scott, Chris Krause, Doug Lipps, David Runion, Tony Carnavale, Michael J. Allen, Jay Arce, Rudy Medrano, Jeffrey Onnen Scott, Garry Eicholz, Joe Mancuso, John DeHaven, Kenny Keller, and Dave McBee.
Throughout Diamond Gray’s 20+ years, their music has been diverse and has evolved from Southern Rock to Commercial Rock to Hard Rock to everything in between. In that time Diamond Gray has released 3 albums including:
- Live To Play, Play To Live (1997)
- For You (2005)
- Sound (2011)
The band released two music videos for two of the songs off their 2005 For You album... “For You”, and “Sick of Being Blue”. Two of Diamond Gray’s songs off the 2011 Sound album reached the #3 position on the Music Tampa Bay top 10 charts... “Sound” and “Shotgun Wedding”. In 2012, “Sound” captured the #13 position on the MTB “Top 100 songs of 2011" charts.
*To read a review of Diamond Gray's Sound album, click here.
The band has performed at such events and venues as: Livestock, Guavaween, Ribfest, AMPD, Wildstock, Annual Daytona Bike Weeks & Biketoberfest's, and the Orlando House of Blues. In addition, the band has opened for such major acts as Ronnie Montrose, Blue Oyster Cult, Edgar Winter, Molly Hatchet, Brian Howe (Bad Co.), Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Cheap Trick, Jefferson Starship, REO Speedwagon, Jackyl, Foreigner, and Zebra.
Diamond Gray has also been recognized by several local music scene entities in the past. The band won several music awards at the annual Tampa Bay Music Awards shows that took place in the 1990's, and were also recently nominated for possible induction into the Tampa Bay Music Hall of Fame as well.
The St. Petersburg Live Music Bar Scene Column was able to talk with former Diamond Gray bassist, Mike Townsend, and Diamond Gray founding member, Danny Gray. Townsend and Gray were asked to reflect on the bands past, here is what they had to say:
“I was playing an acoustic show with my duo "Parts & Labor" when I was approached by Danny Gray and Rocky Diamond in June 2003 about joining the band. I had never seen the band before and went to see them the next night. After watching them play a set, Danny came and asked what I thought. I asked him, "How long do I have?" He looked at me quizzically and asked, "For what?" I replied, "To learn the material, if you tell me I have 3 weeks, it'll take me 3 weeks, if you say 3 months, it'll take 3 months." He replied, "Three weeks." We exchanged phone numbers and I asked him to send me a song list. On the following Tuesday, Danny called me with the song list and said, "Oh, by the way,... you're playing this Friday. You've got three days!" I spent the next nine years playing with a few different versions of The Diamond Gray Band. I had a lot of good times and a few bad ones, but all in all, I enjoyed the ride.” - Mike Townsend, Bassist (2003 - 2012).
“As an original founding member and partial namesake of Diamond Gray, I had an incredible and memorable 15 year run as their lead singer / frontman, sharing the stage with some of most amazing and talented musicians a lead singer could ever ask for. I was also blessed with some of the finest sound and light engineers and stage crew that deserve a round of applause as well. From 1992 – 2007, my involvement with Diamond Gray helped me grow individually as a musician, fulfilling a lot of lifelong dreams I had since childhood i.e opening for legendary names like Foreigner, Gregg Allman, Cheap Trick, Blue Oyster Cult, Molly Hatchet, Steppenwolf and The Little River Band, just to mention few. Teaming up with lead guitarist and fellow band namesake Rocky Diamond was a blessing in itself as we developed a great chemistry of performing and eventually songwriting together, which blossomed into the incredible band Diamond Gray evolved into. I want to personally thank Dennis Daley for the incredible job he did keeping the magic alive onstage as their frontman. To all the fantastic musicians who I shared the stage with…thank you all for a million wonderful memories that will never fade away. And especially to all the fans that faithfully followed us over the years…you get the biggest thanks of all!!! You, the fans, were the driving force behind our level of energy on the stage…if it wasn’t for you, Diamond Gray would be nothing. In memory of Todd Dyer, Bassist Extraordinaire, and Pete Pita, my personal Stage Hand, Roadie, and dear friend.” - Danny Gray, Lead Singer (1992 - 2007).
The St. Petersburg Live Music Bar Scene Column also asked the current Diamond Gray lineup to reflect on the bands past, and this is what they had to say:
“I was told about them needing a drummer through a mutual friend 13 years ago who gave Danny Gray my number. He called, set up an audition, and the rest is history. It has been a GREAT time. It's been a pleasure to be in a band with very minimal drama and problems. We always focused on having fun and trying to be the best band we could be. I personally remember several shows where we just really clicked and the whole band was on and kicking ass.(past and present). And that's rare in any band. Its been a pleasure playing with everyone involved in Diamond Gray Past, and present, i'm proud to say I was apart of it. And the best part is, for me at least, is no hate or animosity towards anybody. Sometimes, it's just time move on.” - Brian Bradford, Drums (2000 - Present).
“So I started as a “fill in” singer with Diamond Gray until they could get a permanent replacement... that fill in position lasted 5 years. It's been a great 5 years, the guys have so much talent, and writing with Rocky has been great. We connected right away. The first song we wrote was done in about an hour. After playing with these guys... I am sad to see it end, and who ever I get with next has got some big Texas shoes to fill.” - Dennis Daley, Lead Singer (2008-Present)
“Just like Dennis, I started as a fill in. I have known Brian Bradford since he was about 18 Years old, and it was great to get to play with him many years later. Dennis and Rocky are great people also. I was sad to see this great band end for me only months later, but as musicians we evolve and want to do other things, and Brian and Rocky wanted to do just that... And i'm very happy for them. Thanks guys for the great times and the great gigs that we did and i will always be in touch!! Good Luck Dennis with your new band also, I will see you all soon!!” - Mark Welsh, Bassist (2013 - Present)
Fans still have a chance to catch Diamond Gray perform live before the band says goodbye for good. The band has five remaining shows left including:
- November 29th - Billy G’s Lounge, Largo
- November 30th - Porpoise Pub, Seminole
- December 13th - Wild Indian Saloon, Largo
- December 21st - Porpoise Pub, Seminole
- December 28th - Billy G’s Lounge, Largo
What are the plans for the current Diamond Gray lineup once the band plays their last show together?
Mark Welsh is currently working on putting a new project together.
Rocky Diamond and Brad Bradford will be working together in a new band, possibly the Rocky Damn Diamond Band which has been a side project of Diamond’s for awhile.
Dennis Daley will be taking over as the new lead singer for Sons of Nuns. In Sons of Nuns, Daley will rejoin his former Bad Neighbors band mates, Lee Fenical (guitar) and Sam Chupa (bass). The band also consists of Cliff Greene (My D'Vice) on drums as well. Daley will make his debut with Sons of Nuns on November 9th when the band plays at Billy G’s Lounge in Largo.
Without a doubt, Diamond Gray has made an impact on the Tampa Bay music scene and will be greatly missed... missed by their fans, and missed by their colleagues. The St. Petersburg Live Music Bar Scene Column would like to thank all the members of Diamond Gray, both past and present, for their dedication to the scene, as well as all the great music and entertainment they have provided to the local music fans throughout the past 20+ years. The St. Petersburg Live Music Bar Scene Column would also like to wish Dennis, Rocky, Mark and Brian the best of luck and success with their future endeavors.
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