|Dave Somerville (1933-2015)
David-Troy Somerville (a.k.a. “Diamond Dave”),
was one of the most gifted Pop vocalists and musical treasures of all
time. He capitalized on his distinctive baritone voice, four octave
vocal range, leading man good looks and a vibrant personality to create
a career spanning over six decades as a singer, songwriter, actor and
voice over artist. Les Paul was right when he said, “Dave has a unique
God-given voice … a distillation of Elvis and Bing.”
Born on October 2, 1933 in Guelph, Ontario,
Canada, David grew up in the small nearby farming village of Rockwood.
At age 12 his family moved to Toronto. After Central Technical High
School, he went to work as a radio operator for the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation. There in November 1953 he met a vocal group
waiting to audition for an amateur talent show, engaged them in
conversation and quickly became their coach and ultimately Lead Singer.
They called themselves The Diamonds.
They were “discovered” by legendary Cleveland
D.J., Dr. Bill Randle, who led them to a recording contract with
Mercury Records in 1956. Propelled by Dave’s voice, The Diamonds became
the most prominent white male vocal group of the mid-to-late 1950s, one
of the biggest recording act of all music genres during that era, the
first vocal group to have a rock ‘n’ roll hit, and the first white
vocal group of early rock ‘n’ roll to have hits on R&B charts. The
Diamonds became widely regarded as one of the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll
known for their sparkling vocal harmony sound that was so vital in
rock’s early days.
The Diamonds charted with 16 Billboard hits
between 1956 and 1961, 15 of which were Top 40 and 3 were Top 10 on Pop
Charts (4 Top 10 on R&B Charts) and 3 Gold Records (“Little
Darlin’,” “The Stroll” and “Silhouettes”).
“Little Darlin’” featuring David’s distinctive
falsetto artistry became the 3rd biggest selling record of 1957, the
first rock ‘n’ roll hit with a Latin beat, their first million-seller
and the first the song that made The Diamonds a household name and put
them in the history books. The Diamonds’ “Little Darlin’” has become a
seminal song of the era and an enduring anthem of the rock and roll
In the fall of ’57 topping the charts with 8
hits, The Diamonds joined a now legendary rock ‘n’ roll bus tour with
other rising stars – Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Paul Anka, LaVerne
Baker, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and The Crickets, and others.
For two months of one-nighters, these pioneer jukebox giants
barnstormed North America making musical history. and sowing the seeds
of rock ‘n’ roll.
The Diamonds’ music influenced many artists
through the years including Elvis, Bob Dylan, Jan & Dean, David
Bowie and Carole King to name a few.
David left the Diamonds to pursue a single act
as a Folk artist under the name David Troy from 1961 to 1966 appearing
in celebrated folk venues around the country and throughout Asia. In
1966, David became a member of The Four Preps with whom he performed
for the next few years. In 1968 he left the group along with the
co-founder and Lead Singer, Bruce Belland, and together formed a music
and comedy duo called Belland and Somerville that would, for the next
five years, become the opening act for such performers as Johnny
Mathis, Henry Mancini, Glen Campbell and Brazil ’66. They appeared on
numerous television shows and as regulars on The Tim Conway Show.
Over the years David kept a busy schedule
entertaining at concerts, recording soundtracks, acting in television
shows and stage productions, performing voice-overs, or writing one of
several hundred songs in his catalog. He and Belland went on to
collaborate on many songs including “Troublemaker” that became a
platinum recording and title song for Willie Nelson’s No. 1 Country
Album in 1976. David also co-wrote the theme song that inspired the ABC
hit television show “The Fall Guy” starring Lee Majors and created by
In 1988 he rejoined The Four Preps for another
eighteen years. Most recently he performed a single act as “Dave
Somerville, Original Lead Singer of The Diamonds,” recreating those
early days of rock ‘n’ roll on that Greyhound bus by singing the hit
songs of those artists on that tour and telling road stories.
It was The Diamonds’ contribution to
international popular music and the power of David’s voice that earned
them induction into five music halls of fame. He also appeared in 2 PBS
specials – “Doo Wop ‘51” and “Magic Moments – The Best of Fifties Pop.”
website is being redesigned. Please check back in the future to read about career highlights, view photos and
videos, as well as hear interiews and music by "Diamond" Dave.