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Taking a look and listen to the original recordings covered by The Diamonds

The Diamonds had great success with cover renditions of R&B songs in the late '50s.
The Diamonds had great success with cover renditions of R&B songs in the late '50s.

The Toronto doo-wop quartet called The Diamonds was one of the most prominent groups in the second half of the 1950s, and much of their success stemmed from cover renditions of songs previously released by other recording artists.

Original group members were lead singer Dave Somerville, tenor Dave Kowalski, baritone Phil Levitt and bass Bill Reed, and there were several lineup changes before their final Billboard Magazine Hot 100 chart hit in 1961. Beginning with "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" in the spring of 1956, they were credited with 15 Top 40 singles.

They were most noted for interpreting and introducing songs originated by R&B, blues and doo-wop vocal groups to wider pop music audiences. The Diamonds never had a No. 1 Billboard hit, but their cover of The Gladiolas' "Little Darlin'" spent eight consecutive weeks in the No. 2 position, beginning in the spring of 1957.

In many instances, music purists consider The Diamonds' cover renditions as cheap imitations, but their versions of songs by such great R&B groups as The Clovers, The Cleftones, The Rays and The Heartneats often achieved a large measure of success.

This article takes a look at 16 of the original recordings that The Diamonds later covered, and the year and national chart positions are noted at the end of each capsule summary. To hear any of the originals, simply click on the song's title.

  • "LITTLE DARLIN'" (The Gladiolas, 1957): The Diamonds' signature song was written by Maurice Williams and was first recorded by Williams' group from Lancaster, S.C., which later became Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs. This original rendition made it to No. 47. DIAMONDS RENDITION: No. 2, 1957.
  • "WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE" (Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, 1956): This was the most-remembered song for the young quintet from The Bronx. It went as high as No. 6 on the Billboard pop charts, but it topped the R&B listings for five weeks. DIAMONDS RENDITION: No. 16, 1956.
  • "LITTLE GIRL OF MINE" (The Cleftones, 1956): This was a vocal group originally formed as The Silvertones at a junior high school in Jamaica, N.Y., in 1955. The song was written by the group's lead singer, Herb Cox, and it charted at No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100. DIAMONDS RENDITION: uncharted flip of "The Church Bells May Ring" in 1956.
  • "THE CHURCH BELLS MAY RING" (The Willows, 1956): This Harlem doo-wop group started out in 1950 as The Dovers, and this was their biggest hit, reaching No. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 12 on the R&B listings. The record features a young Neil Sedaka on chimes. DIAMONDS RENDITION: No. 30, 1956.
  • "SILHOUETTES" (The Rays, 1957): This classic recording went to No. 3 on the Billboard pop charts for this New York City doo-wop group fronted by Harold Miller. The song was written by Bob Crewe and Frank Slay. DIAMONDS RENDITION: No. 60, 1957.
  • "DADDY COOL" (The Rays, 1957): This song was the flip side of the hit "Silhouettes" for both The Rays and The Diamonds, but the original version remained uncharted. DIAMONDS RENDITION: uncharted flip of "Silhouettes" in 1957.
  • "A THOUSAND MILES AWAY" (The Heartbeats, 1956): This doo-quartet was formed as The Hearts in 1953 in Queens, N.Y., but the name was changed because there was a female group of the same name. At the time of this single, which went to No. 53 nationally, James "Shep" Sheppard, who later formed Shep & The Limelites, was lead singer. DIAMONDS RENDITION: uncharted,
  • "LOVE LOVE LOVE" (The Clovers, 1956): The group was formed at Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C., in 1946, and at one point, they had 13 consecutive R&B Top 10 hits. This song was one of them, and it also reached No. 30 on the national pop charts -- exactly the same position reached by The Diamonds' cover. DIAMONDS RENDITION: No. 30, 1956.
  • "WALKING ALONG" (The Solitaires, 1956): This group was formed in Harlem in 1953, and this song was released on the Old Town label in 1957 and the Argo label in 1958. Lead singer was Milton Love, formerly of the Concords, and the group had a number of R&B charters although they failed to have a Billboard Hot 100 item. DIAMONDS RENDITION: No. 29, 1958.
  • "ONE SUMMER NIGHT" (The Danleers, 1958): This was a No. 16 Billboard Hot 100 item and No. 4 on the R&B charts for this Brooklyn group fronted by Jimmy Weston. Both this rendition and the cover by The Diamonds were on the Mercury label, and the latter rendition, which charted at No. 22, was the final significant Diamonds hit. DIAMONDS RENDITION: No. 22, 1961.
  • "BELIEVE ME" (Royal Teens, 1959): This Fort Lee, N.J., quartet included Bob Gaudio, who went on to become a prominent member of The Four Seasons. The group was most-famous for its 1958 rendition of "Short Shorts." The Diamonds' version was a big hit in Australia, but it appeared only on albums in America. DIAMONDS RENDITION: uncharted, 1959.
  • "NIP SIP" (Clovers, 1955): The Diamonds covered several songs originally done by this Washington, D.C., group, and this song climbed to No. 10 on the national R&B charts. DIAMONDS RENDITION: uncharted flip of "Black Denim Trousers" in 1955.
  • "YOU BABY YOU" (Cleftones, 1956): Written by members Berman Patterson and Warren Corbin, at No. 78, this was the group's first Billboard Hot 100 item. DIAMONDS RENDITION: uncharted flip of "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" in 1956.
  • "BLACK DENIM TROUSERS" (The Cheers, 1955): This teenage tragedy song went to No. 13 on Billboard for the L.A. trio of Bert Convy, Gil Garfield and Sue Allen. The song was written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, and the group was backed by Les Baxter's Orchestra. The Diamonds' cover was one of the group's earliest, coming on the Coral label. DIAMONDS RENDITION: uncharted, 1955.
  • "SNEAKY ALLIGATOR" (Ellis Brothers, 1959): This obscure Oklahoma City doo-wop group was backed by Belford Hendricks' orchestra in their rendition of a song written by Clyde Otis and Willie Dixon. DIAMONDS RENDITION: uncharted, 1959.
  • "STRAIGHT SKIRT" (Gene Summers & His Rebels, 1958): This rockabilly singer and entertainer from Dallas had fleeting success, but he was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 1997. DIAMONDS RENDITION: uncharted, 1958.

[You may subscribe to Bill Herald's oldies music columns -- free of charge -- by clicking on "subscribe" near the top of the column, after which you will receive e-mail notification each time a new item is published].

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