Diamond records was started in 1961 by brothers Joe Kolsky (born Joseph L. Kolksy on March 20,
1920 in Poland) and Phil Kahl (born Philip F. Kolsky on October 10, 1916 in Poland). From the
beginning, Diamond Records was located at 1650 Broadway in New York City, right across the street
from the famous Brill Building. Four years earlier, in January, 1957, Phil and Joe had helped George
Goldner co-found Roulette Records with Morris Levy as President, but which within a few months that
label was taken over by Morris Levy.
Joe Kolsky was the president of Diamond Records, with Phil Kahl the Vice-President and the head of A&R. Phil was a producer for artists on the label, most notably Ronnie Dove. When promotional 45s for the label were sent out, they were often accompanied by blue promo sheets the size of the 45 sleeve. These would sometimes contain an artist's picture and biographical information; other times they would have the lyrics to the song. These promo sheets were always signed by Joe Kolsky.
For a small label, Diamond had a surprising number of well-known artists on its roster at one time or another. These included: Bobby Vinton, Charlie Gracie, Dickey Lee, Dickie Goodman, Gary Criss, Johnny Thunder, Mitch Miller, Ray Smith, Ronnie Dove, Ruby Winters, The Bobbettes, The Del Satins and the Ray Men (Billed as the Wraymen on other labels) with Link Wray and Vernon Wray. Vernon Wray, who went by Ray Vernon when working for Diamond records, was the one who spotted Ronnie Dove singing and signed him to his contract with Diamond.
Diamond's first year, 1961, started in the fall with the release of "Keep Me On Your Mind"/"Ev'ry Step Of The Way" by Kevin McQuinn [Diamond 101], put together by what would turn out later to be the producer behind the Four Seasons. It was a Bob Crewe production with the Charles Callello Orchestra (who also regularly backed the Seasons later). It wasn't until about a year later that the Four Seasons burst on the scene (another "overnight sensation," the artists and producer having spent years honing their craft).
The Kevin McQuinn single was followed in November by "Gimme A Little Kiss, Will Ya Huh?" an uptempo R&B treatment of a tune from the early twentieth century. The artists were one of the many groups called the Originals [Diamond 102], although this was not the more famous Motown group of the same name, which was formed in 1966. Although the song didn't chart nationally, it did dent the Chicago top 40, making #39 on the WLS survey there. (Although it might seem that on this one, the Diamond management may have been a bit oversensitive of the colloquial grammar, since both "Gimme" and "Ya" were in quotation marks on the label, that was the way the title was spelled on the original 1926 sheet music, so they were just being accurate.) Four other singles before the end of the year, by Richie Thompson & the Jesters, Jimmy Parker, the Destinys, and Susan Summers, all sank without a trace.
Diamond Records released 23 singles in 1962, but only three of them charted. The first, released in late June, was a Dickie Goodman parody of the popular TV show Ben Casey, called "Ben Crazy", credited to "Dickie Goodman & Dr. I. M. Ill." Originally, the novelty had been issued on the JMD label as JMD RX- 001. Diamond picked up the master for national distribution and it reached #44 as Diamond 119.
A month later, Diamond again found themselves in luck. Bobby Vinton had just had a #1 hit with "Roses are Red (My Love)" on Epic Records , and Diamond found a master Vinton had recorded earlier called "I Love You The Way You Are." Hoping that folks would think it was the followup to "Roses Are Red," Diamond rushed it out as Diamond 121. They didn't even have another Vinton song to use as a flip side, so for the release they used a song by Chuck & Johnny as the flip. The song was good enough to make #38, but Epic's release a few weeks later of "Rain Rain Go Away," the real followup to "Roses Are Red," effectively killed the Diamond offering.
The last 1962 single, released in December, turned out to be a huge hit: Johnny Thunder's debut single "Loop De Loop" [Diamond 129], which reached #4. "Johnny Thunder" was the stage name for 21-year- old Gil Hamilton, a Florida native, who although he charted six more times for Diamond, never even came close to the popularity of his first hit. His other chart hits were: "The Rosy Dance" [Diamond 132, 3/63, #122], "Hey Child" [Diamond 148, 10/63, #118], "Send Her to Me" [Diamond 175, 12/64, #121], "Everybody Do the Sloopy" [Diamond 192, 11/65, #67], "My Prayer" [Diamond 196, 3/66, #106], and "Make Love to Me" [Diamond 218, 3/67, #96/#13RB], the latter a duet with Ruby Winters. On the strength of his first hit, Diamond issued their first album, called Loop De Loop [Diamond 5001], which was issued both in mono and true stereo.
Outside of the aforementioned Johnny Thunder charters, such as they were, 1963 and the first part of 1964 were quiet indeed for Diamond's chart success. Charlie Russo reached #92 in March, 1963, with a quasi-instrumental called "Preacherman" [Diamond 131]. The closest anyone else got to the charts was a record based on a commercial about the new stretch jeans called "The Wrangler Stretch" by the Pirouettes [Diamond 165], which was mentioned on a Chicago radio chart in early June, 1964, although it failed nationally.
But in mid-1964, Diamond Records finally signed an enduring star: Ronnie Dove. Ronnie was born September 7, 1935, in Herndon, Virginia, and made his name singing in the clubs in Baltimore. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Ronnie fronted his own group called Ronnie Dove and the Belltones. They put out a couple of singles in the early 1960s to no avail. Dove eventually went solo and signed with Diamond Records. Link Wray wrote both sides to Ronnie's first Diamond single, "Sweeter Than Sugar"/"I Believed In You" [Diamond 163], which didn't chart. (The mono single versions of both sides of Ronnie Dove's debut Diamond label 45 differ slightly from the stereo album versions.) But the second single, "Say You" [Diamond 167], made #40 nationally and started an impressive run of 20 Hot-100 hits out of 21 released records (with the other track hitting the Bubbling Under charts).
Ronnie Dove was the only consistent hitmaker Diamond ever had. His string of hits lasted until 1969, with tunes often making the top-10 on the Easy Listening/Adult Contemporary (AC) charts. After "Say You," Dove charted with "Right or Wrong"[Diamond 173, 10/64, #14/#4RB], "Hello Pretty Girl" [Diamond 176, 1/65, #54], "One Kiss for Old Times' Sake" [Diamond 179, 3/65, #14], "A Little Bit of Heaven" [Diamond 184, 6/65, #16/#4AC], "I'll Make All Your Dreams Come True" [Diamond 188, 8/65, #21/#2AC], "Kiss Away" [Diamond 191, 10/65, #25/#5AC], "When Liking Turns to Loving" [Diamond 195, 1/66, #18/#6AC], "Let's Start All Over Again" [Diamond 198, 4/66, #34/#20AC], "Happy Summer Days" [Diamond 205, 6/66, #27/#7AC], "I Really Don't Want to Know" [Diamond 208, 9/66, #22/#12AC], "Cry" [Diamond 214, 11/66, #18/#16AC], "One More Mountain to Climb" [Diamond 217, 2/67, #45], "My Babe" [Diamond 221, 4/67, #50], "I Want to Love You for What You Are" [Diamond 227, 8/67, #54], "Dancin' Out of My Heart" [Diamond 233, 12/67, #87], "In Some Time" [Diamond 240, 3/68, #99/#37AC], "Mountain of Love" [Diamond 244, 6/68, #67], "Tomboy" [Diamond 249, 9/68, #96/#27AC], "What's Wrong with My World" [Diamond 256, 3/69, #131], and "I Need You Now" [Diamond 260, 5/69, #93]. The only records of his that did not chart at all were his first and last for the label. The last single, "Chains of Love"/"If I Live to Be a Hundred" [Diamond 271], was the last single released by Diamond, put out just as the label was being sold to Certron in 1970, when promotion was zero.
The third Diamond artist who had a number of chart hits was Ruby Winters. After the duet with Johnny Thunder that hit in early Spring, 1967, she followed up with "I Want Action" [Diamond 230, 10/67, #109/#47RB], "I Don't Want to Cry" [Diamond 255, 2/69, #97/#15RB], "Just a Dream" [Diamond 258, 5/69, #40RB], "Always David" [Diamond 265, 9/69, #121/#23RB], and "Guess Who" [Diamond 269, 12/69, #99/#19RB].
Other than that, the only post-1964 chart record for Diamond was Power Plant's "I Can't Happen Without You" [Diamond 229], which reached #134 in September, 1967.
Aside from the Johnny Thunder album, every other album for Diamond was by Ronnie Dove. The first three albums were each released with more than half of the songs in true stereo. Every album released after Ronnie's first Greatest Hits album was in true stereo all the way through, but they have not appeared on compact disc that way.
In 1969, Diamond Records was sold to the Edwin H. Morris Corporation, which was owned by Columbia Records at the time. Edwin H. Morris was located at 31 West 64th Street in New York City.
E.H. Morris didn't hold on to the Diamond Records masters for long. Barely a year later, by early 1970, Diamond Records was sold to the music division of the Certron Corporation, a company better known for making magnetic tape (and more recently, computer media). The Certron record label was run by Aubrey Mayhew, Johnny Paycheck's producer who had run Johnny's country-oriented Little Darlin' label in the 1960s. Certron released about thirty singles and about two dozen albums, most of which were quite unsuccessful.
Some of the artists who were originally on Diamond were also released on Certron. These included Ruby Winters, The Bleus (as the Electric Hand Band on Certron) and Ronnie Dove (who had no singles but a Greatest Hits LP released on Certron which included one previously unreleased song). In less than two years, the Certron record label folded (although the company survives today), and all of the Diamond and Certron label master tapes disappeared, including the tapes for an unreleased live album by Ronnie Dove which was recorded at Roger Miller's King Of The Road.
Ronnie Dove reissues appeared on a number of record labels with first time stereo mixes popping up in a few places in the years following the demise of the Certron label. To this day, no one even seems to know exactly who owns Diamond Records, and no one seems to know what happened to the original master tapes.
After the demise of Certron, Ronnie Dove signed with Decca/MCA between 1971 and 1973, where he had two minor country hits ["Kiss the Hurt Away," Decca 32919, #61, and "Lilacs in Winter," Decca 33038, #69]. By 1975, he had moved to the Melodyland label, Motown's country label, where he had two country charters, "Please Come to Nashville," Melodyland 6004, #75, and "Things," Melodyland 6011, #25. In mid-1976, Melodyland changed its name to Hitsville, and although Dove released two more singles under that imprint, neither charted. In 1987, Dove resurrected the Diamond Records label name and released two more singles, both making the national Country charts ["Heart," Diamond 378, #77, and "Rise and Shine," Diamond 379, #73], one of which went to #1 locally in Baltimore. Ronnie, well into his seventies, still performs occasionally in the Baltimore area.
Both Joe Kolsky and Phil Kahl retired to Florida, with Joe moving to Pompano Beach while Phil settled in Boca Raton. Joe died on May 8, 1997 and Phil followed on March 13, 2000. Ray Vernon, another major figure at Diamond records who produced a lot of recordings with Phil Kahl, died in 1979. Sadly, Link Wray also passed away on November 5, 2005.
|Diamond used the same label throughout its life, although the background color ranged from a deep aqua at the beginning to a light blue later. Print was black, with the label name on top, and "DIAMOND RECORDS INC. 1650 BROADWAY NYC, NY" curving along the bottom. There was a white "diamond" gem in the background of the label.|
Number - Title - Artist - [Release Date] (Chart) Contents
Diamond D/SD-5000 Main Series:
D/SD-5001 - Loop De Loop - Johnny Thunder  Loop De Loop (S)/Good Morning
Sadness (S)/The Chain (S)/A Broken Heart (S)/All 'Round In A Circle (S)/Bad Man (S)//Zoo-Lee-Oh
(S)/Drink-Drink (S)/Al-La-Wetta (S)/Beautiful (S)/In And Out The Window (S)/Don't Be Ashamed (S)
D/SD-5002 - Right or
Wrong - Ronnie Dove  Interestingly, this cover is a knockoff of the Dion album from
about a year earlier [shown at right]. Exactly why is unclear; perhaps Dion was a favorite of Ronnie's.
Hello Pretty Girl/There's No One Out There For Me/To Each His Own/Baby, Put Your Arms Around
Me/No Greater Love/Right Or Wrong/I'll String Along With You/Keep It A Secret/Bluebird/I Believed In
You/Sweeter Than Sugar/Say You
D/SD-5003 - One Kiss for Old Times' Sake - Ronnie Dove  (7-65, #119) She Only
Makes Me Love You More/All Of Me/I Had To Lose You (To Find That I Need You)/If I Live To Be A
Hundred/If I Cried Every Time You Hurt Me/A Little Bit Of Heaven/All/Nevertheless (I'm In Love With
You)/Where In The World/It's Almost Tomorrow/One Kiss For Old Times' Sake
D/SD-5004 - I'll Make All Your Dreams Come True - Ronnie Dove  Wish I Didn't
Have A Heart/I Have Something To Give You/In A Million Different Ways/The Minute You're Gone/I'm
Learning How To Smile Again/Kiss Away/I Think It's Gonna Rain/Put My Mind At Ease/They Can't Love
Like You And Me/How I Wish The Nights Were Longer/I'll Make All Your Dreams Come True
D/SD-5005 - The Best of Ronnie Dove - Ronnie Dove  (4-66, #35) Say You
(S)/Right Or Wrong (E)/Hello Pretty Girl (S)/Keep It A Secret (S)/Where In The World (M)/One Kiss For
Old Times' Sake (M)//A Little Bit Of Heaven (E)/Nevertheless (I'm In Love With You) (M)/If I Live To Be A
Hundred (M)/Kiss Away (S)/I'll Make All Your Dreams Come True (M)/When Liking Turns To Loving (S)
D/SD-5006 - Ronnie Dove Sings the Hits for You - Ronnie Dove  (10-66, #122)
Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You) (S)/I Really Don't Want To Know (S)/On A Slow Boat To China
(S)/Long After (S)/Happy Summer Days (S)/Let's Start All Over Again (S)/Mountain Of Love (S)/I Found
You (Just In Time) (S)/I'm The One Who Taught You How (S)/Almost Paradise (S)/That Empty Feeling
D/SD-5007 - Cry - Ronnie Dove  (3-67, #121) Walkin' My Baby Back Home
(S)/Tell The Lady I Said Good-Bye (S)/It's The Talk Of The Town (S)/The Little White Cloud That Cried
(S)/Autumn Rhapsody (S)/I Can't Stop Loving You (S)/Wheel Of Fortune (S)/I Won't Cry Anymore
(S)/One More Mountain To Climb (S)/Years Of Tears (S)/Cry (S)
D/SD-5008 - The Best of Ronnie Dove, Vol. 2 - Ronnie Dove  Add Love (S)/Let's
Start All Over Again (S)/Happy Summer Days (S)/That's My Desire (S)/I Want To Love You For What
You Are (S)/Cry (S)//My Babe (S)/I Really Don't Want To Know (S)/One More Mountain To Climb
(S)/Back From Baltimore (S)/You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It) (S)/The Wedding Song (S)