The Diamonds, like other creative, forward looking artists, see the durability of the 50’s music as a lesson as much about the future as about the past. “We’ve been pleased to find a growing audience among the age group 25 and up. These people have graduated from loudness and sheer volume, to an appreciation of quality, style, and entertainment value in music. They like songs they can remember tomorrow, or even 20 years from now.”
Part of THE DIAMONDS strength lies in the diverse musical backgrounds of the individual members of the group. Top tenor, Bob Duncan, got his first taste of the Top-lO at age 17 with The Safaris. After high school came a brief stint with The Four Preps, then on to Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, where Bob sang with Westmont’s scholarship quartet. He later became part of a quartet which auditioned for, and landed a spot on, The Lawrence Welk Show. The quartet stayed with Welk for three years. Upon completion of six years of college study, Duncan’s interest in church music led to a career as a Baptist Minister of Music, first at Downey, then Oxnard, California. He continued his work in television via seasonal specials and commercials. Bob began singing with THE DIAMONDS in 1979, joining long time bass singer John Felton. The group was riding the wave of nostalgia sweeping the country because of movies like American Graffiti and television shows like Happy Days.
Bass singer Jerry Siggins has accumulated some impressive musical credits of his own. Jerry worked throughout the United States, Japan, and Australia as a singer and actor. He spent five summers at Jackson Hole’s Pink Garter Theater and has guest starred on The Tonight Show, Tony Orlando and Dawn, and The Love Boat. Before setting down roots as a permanent member of THE DIAMONDS, Jerry enjoyed a successful commercial career and was actively involved in Southern California theater. He sang in a doowop group called Danny And The Dappers and was a mainstay at Disneyland and Disney World as a vocalist with The Dapper Dans barbershop quartet.
Steve Smith has been the lead singer with THE DIAMONDS since 1982. Bob Duncan notes, “Steve is a powerful lead singer with a recognizable voice, and that’s something every quartet needs.” Steve, the solo male voice on The Lawrence Welk Show for five years in the mid-sixties, also sang lead with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. He was very active as a Los Angeles studio singer, working on The Carol Burnett Show, and has sung the theme song for several movies.
Baritone singer Gary Owens has spent the longest time as a Diamond, joining forces with John Felton in 1975. A well rounded musician, Owens learned his craft as a journeyman bass player around Los Angeles while earning his undergraduate degree in music at California State University, Long Beach. In the early 1980’s, Owens took a brief hiatus from THE DIAMONDS to complete his Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of Southern California. Besides singing, and playing saxophone and flute, Owens does most of the vocal arranging for THE DIAMONDS. In that capacity, he is well aware of the group’s particular effectiveness. “THE DIAMONDS are four distinctive individuals,” he notes, “with one strong group personality. The four of us as a unit have a special chemistry, and it is that chemistry that gives us our unique identity.”
THE DIAMONDS are still rockin’!
One of the leading cover groups of the mid-’50s, the Diamonds adapted current R&B hits into pop gold of their own. Hailing from Toronto, the Canadian quartet (consisting of Ted Kowalski, Phil Levitt, Bill Reed, and Dave Somerville) signed with Mercury in 1955 and immediately zoomed up pop play lists with covers of the Teenagers’ “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”; the Willows’ “Church Bells May Ring”; and their biggest hit of all, a sanitized version of the Gladiolas hit “Little Darlin’.” Fronted by David Somerville, the quartet hit with an original, the smooth dance outing “The Stroll.” After weathering major personnel changes, the Diamonds notched their last hit in 1961. Somerville remained active as a solo artist for a time, and the Diamonds often toured the oldies scene.