The 1950’s Fabulous Foursome!This is a fan site of the original Diamonds of the 1950s. All hailing from Canada, they made their way to the U. S., and with their songs and energy, endeared themselves to their fans forever.
Bill Reed- Born in Toronto, Canada Jan. 11, 1936 / died October 22, 2004. Bill seemed to be destined to sing. His father Harry, sang bass in a barber shop quartet and obviously instilled the desire and tutoring. It would seem natural that Bill's first love of singing was for Barber Shop, but oddly a love for the tenor part. Ted Kowalski recalls: "He always wanted to sing my part" " We would always tease him about this because most people who sing bass want to sing tenor." He met Ted when he was 17 and was studying to become a hair dresser.
Bill was a character and an extraordinary person. He never had a loss for words and was amazingly fast with on-the-spot one-liners. He had an unbelievably good memory and almost instant recall for things such as names and faces. He remembered all the disc jockeys he had ever met, and the call letters of most of their stations. Occasionally when the group was out, Bill would call out to someone the other members didn’t recognize. Not only did He call the person by name, but reminded them when and where, and in which city they had met him. These would be show biz people they had met or worked with. When the Diamonds went back to a U. S. city, he would remember how to get around, including street names, where they had stayed in all the various cities, and what had happened there. He loved black people and black music. After the Diamonds early experiences with The Revelaires, he would love to get together with any black person or group who knew spiritual or gospel music and jam with them, as did all of the Diamonds. When they were on tour or doing single or weekly bookings, all groups, no matter who they came in contact with, liked Bill. This was not only for his singing ability but for his personality. During his time with the Diamonds, Bill received many accolades with regard to his singing and stage presence.Being an extraordinary person, Bill had an extraordinary thing happen to him. Case in mind, the one about the bear on the Paul Winchell show. In Bill's own words: "Well, they had a bear act on the show. Three bears who rode bicycles, etc. They'd just driven a long way in a trailer and I think the bears were restless. During rehearsal, one lady was clawed by one of them. We were going to be on the second half of the show, and during the first half, I was standing in a stairway off stage. All of a sudden, a guy came running by me yelling, "Come on! Come on !" I looked behind him and one of the bears was coming down after us! So we ran down the stairs and through the cellar, over to the other side of the theater, and up another stairway. I got to the top and found a trap door . . . locked! The bear started coming at us! I started pounding on the door. Finally, somebody helped us through and we made it. I'll never be the same, though."Bill's time with the Diamonds was from 1953 to 1958, and after leaving the group, he had many offers to sing with other groups. The occupation of record promoter must have been more appealing than being on the road. Of course he did make public appearances with the original Diamonds when they were call upon to perform in "oldies" shows. In 2004, he made his last appearance in Atlantic City in the PBS production of "Magic Moments-The Best Of '50s Pop" as the original bass for the Diamonds. Bill passed away October 22, 2004.Be it Doo Wop, Barbershop, or Big Band, he could do it all. He gave the Diamonds what the Crew Cuts, Four Lads, Four Aces and many other groups didn't have - "a real bass singer". Listen to "Until The Real Thing Comes Along" on "The Diamonds Meet Pete Rugolo" album, you'll know it was the consensus of opinion that he had one of the best bass voices to come along. Sample Track: It has been recently discovered that Bill may have been the earliest verified performer of the "air guitar". This was in 1957 and was recorded from a live TV show and can be viewed on YouTube.To quote Bill:“During 1954 & 1957, a black quartet from Detroit was booked occasionally to sing at the Barclay Hotel in Toronto. Our newly formed group went many times to hear them sing. They had an amazing “inside a bottle” blend and a show that blew us away. They were called The Revelaires.After shows, we’d go to one of the their rooms, where sitting across from one another, knee to knee on two beds, they schooled our group in the ways of singing spirituals and pop music of the day. Their influence deeply affected the way we got into the songs. Our thanks go back to Bill, Joe, Gabriel and the great Jimmy Bryant.”Obituary