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.
Recently I found out that a Diamond resides right here in good ole Whitby. He is Ted Kowalski, one of the original members of Canada’s eminent rock ‘n roll vocal quartet from the 1950s, The Diamonds. When opportunity knocks you take it. Thanks to Ted and his vivacious wife Valare’s invitation to come on over to their home, I was able to talk with the former Diamonds’ tenor. The group achieved substantial success during the heady days of the Fifties, including their biggest hit, the enduring Little Darlin’(1957), a milestone recording that has sold millions and millions of copies the world over. The Diamonds came to fruition during a chance meeting with Dave Somerville in the hall of CBC studios in 1953.“I was going to University of Toronto at the time to study Engineering,” explained Ted. “I met Phil Levitt and he knew a guy called Stan Fisher and I knew Bill Reed. We got together as a team and tried to emulate The Four Lads and The Four Aces.
There’s a Diamond in Our Midstby Andrew Merey(Used by Permission)
We had a couple of songs and decided to try out for a Toronto show called ‘Pick The Stars’. We were rehearsing at the CBC when their record spinner, Dave Somerville heard us and liked us. We did the show and met our manager Nat Goodman. Stan Fisher couldn’t make it to the show, so Dave stepped in. From then on, it just went.”Five years after The Diamonds’ inception, Ted Kowalski decided to call it quits and shift to more stable career moves. “I decided there was no real future in it”, he says. “So I resumed my studies in Engineering. Same with Phil, he went there the year before. After I graduated in 1964, I went back to my singing career as a sideline to my full-time job. First I sang with a big band and then I joined a group called The Generations in early 1977.”The Generations ensemble did very well with Ted as the featured soloist, virtually performing on a weekly basis. They were in demand, appealing to both young and old with their songs, and would continue to do so for nearly twenty years.During the last decade or so, Ted has enjoyed, time and again, attending various reunion and award events with The Diamonds, including induction into The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame.In the more immediate past, there’s been a rough go of health problems for him but admirably, he withstood and survived the ordeals. Although mindful of his frailty, Ted is feeling much better these days, and for that we’re grateful. The meeting was capped with a most interesting tour of Ted’s gallery of awards and mementoes from years gone by. One item that quickly caught my eye was a gold record of Little Darlin’. “There are two more singles that were certified gold [Silhouettes (1957) and The Stroll (1958)] but I never did get copies of them.”I sensed that, given Ted’s health battles, talking about his career in music during this assignation, uplifted his moods. “They were good times then,” he lamented. Amen to that.At the beginning...“We used to stand on the corner of Bloor and Yonge in Toronto, next to Fran’s Restaurant and sing harmony. The Crew Cuts and The Four Lads used to do the same thing but some people were not at all pleased; the type of songs were unheard of, even risqué, like The Four Lads’ Standing On The Corner, watching all the girls go by. That’s where the idea for the song came from.” About The Diamond’s “The Stroll”...“Brook Benton was the one that taught us how to sing The Stroll. Clyde Otis produced it.”An anecdote from the innocent years...“We didn’t know much of anything back then...we [The Diamonds] were driving along the Pennsylvania Turnpike and it was hot that day, really hot. We’re all perspiring and as we look out the windows at the cars going by and see some of the windows are closed and it looked so cool in the cars. We thought, maybe that’s the secret, so we roll up our own windows, this is what keeps you cool, and then we sweated like crazy! We pulled into a gas station and we asked the gas attendant, how come all the cars that go by that don’t have their windows open, they look so cool? He said to us, they got air-conditioning. What??? In cars?? We had never heard of cars having air-conditioning!”About leaving The Diamonds...“I didn’t regret leaving The Diamonds right away, but later on I did. I missed performing, the applause, being on stage.”About the ‘handkerchief-over-his-head’ routine while singing, la la la la, on “Little Darlin’”....“Gene Kelly [American actor, dancer] told me to do that. He was doing another show and came over, suggesting the idea.”About Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley...Ted: “When we went on bus tours we used to sing together with Buddy Holly, who played his ukulele; he was still with The Crickets then. He was a great talented guy, very humble, very down to earth.”Andrew: “What about Elvis?”Ted: “Yes, I met him in L.A. He wanted to take her [Valare] out.”Andrew: “Take her out? And what did you say?”Valare: “I said no.”Andrew: “You said no to the King Of Rock ‘N Roll??? Why?”Valare: “Because he sent one of his managers over to ask me.”Andrew: “Oh, I see. What year did that happen?”Ted: “Sometime before we were married in 1960.”
Ted Kowalski, once a member of the popular Canadian quartet, The Diamonds, of the 1950 and early 60s, is pictured with his gold record for Little Darlin’, October 6, 2009. Photo - Jason Liebregts/ Metroland