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.
Phil Levitt - Born July 9, 1935. Phil was (and is) a person who really sang just for the love of singing. In high school
he sang with the choir, boy's ensemble, and a trio, which is where he tasted his first bit of glory as a performer, in a
highly successful performance at the graduation ceremonies. Little did he know that he would be a member of one of
the most popular singing groups of the 1950s.
The summer after high school, Phil and his best friend Stan Fisher went to a vacation spot called Crystal Beach, not far from Toronto.
One of the favorite spots where all the young people hung out was called the Swing Inn. While Phil and Stan were walking up a dark side
street on their way back to the cottage, they started harmonizing to "I’d Rather Die Young" (The Hilltoppers), which they'd just listened to
around 15 times on the juke box at the Swing Inn. All at once they heard a commotion and four girls came running out from the darkness,
gushing over how great they sounded and asking them to sing some more. Taken totally aback they fled, but harmonized a LOT for the
rest of the vacation.
That fall Phil went into electrical engineering and Stan entered law school, both at the University of Toronto. One day Phil's class was out
on the campus in groups carrying out a surveying project. Ted Kowalski, whom Phil barely knew, was in Phil's group. After just hearing
Ted speak, Phil jokingly said to him that he sounded like a tenor and Ted said that in fact he was. Phil's mind immediately raced back to
memories of the ovation for his high school trio and of the girls running out of the shadows at Crystal Beach. Phil told Ted that he and a
buddy of his were doing some harmonizing and asked him to join them and Ted said OK, and it worked out well. Phil and Stan thought
Ted was great, loved the sound, and had a lot of fun singing. Ted mentioned that he had a buddy who sang bass and suggested that he
join them to form a quartet. His name was Bill Reed. They arranged to meet Bill at a local dance club (The Lebanese Club) where they
had been doing some amateur singing. When Bill arrived they went out into Phil's beat-up ’47 Chevy and harmonized on "Down By The
Riverside" and a few other songs. It was love at first sound. They thought the mix was great, and that Bills voice was simply marvelous. As
of that moment, they were a group.
After a while they had developed a bit of a repertoire (around 5 songs!) and thought it was time to try out for a local C.B.C (Canadian
Broadcasting Corp.) television talent show, "Pick The Stars". They went to the C.B.C building on the appointed night and were practicing
nervously and quietly in a corridor outside the studio. A guy walked by, did a U-turn and came up to listen. They started talking and, when
he learned details of the group, especially the extent of their repertoire; he told them that he didn’t think they were ready to do the show.
He told them that he was knowledgeable in music and that he worked at C.B.C (sound engineer) and could get them into studios to
rehearse, and he offered to become their manager. They accepted. This was Dave Somerville. Shortly after meeting Dave, the group
decided to go professional. Stan Fisher opted to stay in school and Dave Somerville, who, it turned out, had a great, classically trained
voice, became the lead singer.
Phil was enjoying the success of The Diamonds as they went thru the growing stages, however, shortly after The Diamonds started
recording for Mercury, he had begun to fall out of love with show business life. He enjoyed the fact that The Diamonds had obtained
recognition and he generally liked the people in the business. On the other hand he had become weary of the endless stream of hotel
stays, restaurant meals, and airline flights. But more than that, he missed the main reason for singing, which had been The Diamonds'
first love but which now consisted of performing the same songs, night after night after night. Never having really been infected by the
show business "bug", Phil now found that the fun, the other main driving force, was pretty well gone. Also, thinking practically, it was hard
to see how a person could combine life on the road with marriage and children, and he certainly wanted those. He was also anxious to
return to school. Even the enormous success of "Little Darlin’" failed to change anything drastically. Phil decided in the spring of 1957
that he would leave. Mike Douglas replaced Phil as baritone and that fall he entered second year engineering. Phil spent his working
career as an electrical engineer. Now retired, he occasionally makes public appearances with the original Diamonds.
To quote Phil:
"As a footnote, I have to say that, for me, the most marvelous thing about being part of the group was in the early amateur days when,
alone in someone’s living room or basement, we put together an arrangement for a new song. Typically, one of us would suggest
something, perhaps "I Ran All the Way Home" by the Mills Brothers. Then Dave would simply start to sing the melody and Bill, Ted and I
would search out our parts and, generally, within 10 to 15 minutes, we had something really listenable. There were no microphones and
no instruments, just our voices, and the blend was smooth and the sound was beautiful, to my ears anyway, and I remember wishing that
the song and the evening could just on forever".