It’s common knowledge that the early days of rock and roll included many instances of white performers redoing songs originated by black artists, in the belief that it made them more accessible to mainstream music fans. The most often mentioned example is Pat Boone vs Little Richard, and Boone’s watered-down renditions did sell a lot of records. But some music experts believe that there were cases where the newer version of a song was better, and cite “Little Darlin” by the Diamonds as a candidate.
When Dave Somerville, Ted Kowalski, Phil Leavitt, and Bill Reed came together in Toronto to form the Diamonds, they had a pretty clear vision of the road to success. It was the 1950s, the rock and roll explosion was in full force, and the guys decided they could apply their close-harmony, precision sound to established songs and appeal to a wider audience.
It didn’t take long for them to find success. Canadian doo-wop invaded the U.S. with a vengance, and the group’s best-selling records were all over the charts for a period of several years beginning in 1956. Among the Diamonds’ biggest early hits were covers of the Willows’ “Church Bells May Ring,” and the Teenagers’ “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” but “Little Darlin” would be the group’s biggest of all.
The song had originally been recorded by Maurice Williams* and the Gladiolas, but it did only moderately well. However, the Diamonds’ version hit the target with fans, becoming a huge seller. The group would follow up with a number of hits, including Buddy Holly’s “Words Of Love,” and an original song, “The Stroll,” before personnel changes began to occur and momentum slowed. However, various versions of the group have continued to entertain fans through the years.
*Williams would later have a big hit of his own with “Stay” — but that’s a story for another day.
The Diamonds – “Little Darlin”
(video removed at source)