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David Somerville, also called “Diamond” Dave Somerville (October 2, 1933 – July 14, 2015) was a Canadian singer operating primarily in the United States, best known as the co-founder, and original lead singer, of The Diamonds, one of the most popular vocal groups of the 1950s.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Television
- 3 Films
- 4 Stage
- 5 Spokesman
- 6 Voice overs
- 7 Awards as a member of The Diamonds
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Born in Guelph, Ontario, Somerville grew up in a musical family in the nearby farming village of Rockwood, 50 miles west of Toronto. In 1947, at the age of 14, he moved to Toronto with his parents and brother Marc, where he entered Central Tech to study architecture and building construction. He is not known to have specified when he realized that neither architecture nor building construction would be his career. It is known, however, that he changed the focus of his studies to radio, and that in 1952, at the age of 19, he secured a position at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the engineering department as a radio operator while concurrently studying voice with Dr. Ernesto Vinci at the University of Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music.
Years with the Diamonds
Formation of the Diamonds
In the hallway of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation during the fall of 1953, Somerville met by chance an unnamed quartet (Stan Fisher, Ted Kowalski, Phil Levitt and Bill Reed) and soon became their vocal coach. Later that year when Fisher opted for college, Dave became the group’s lead singer. That quartet became The Diamonds.
On August 1, 1955, the group tied for first place on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts in New York City. In February 1956 with the recommendation of Cleveland’s genius DJ, Dr. Bill Randle, they signed a long-term contract with Mercury Records. Somerville performed eight years with The Diamonds, singing lead on all sixteen of their Billboard chart selections, peaking with the song “Little Darlin';” for eight weeks, this selection remained at #2 on the charts, becoming the third best selling single record of 1957.
Career after the Diamonds
The 1960s, including the "David Troy" years
After leaving the Diamonds, Somerville married Judy Corns of Evansville, IN, and began a six-year solo career as a folk artist, using the stage name David Troy. (The origin of this stage name was not known as of the middle of August 2014.) During this period, Somerville also studied acting, with Leonard Nimoy as his teacher, and made numerous guest-starring appearances, often credited as "David Troy," on various television programs. One of these was in “The Conscience of the King,” an episode of the original Star Trek (of which Nimoy, his acting coach, was one of the regular cast members) that dealt with an infamous but guilt-plagued criminal; Somerville, credited as Troy, acted out the role of Lieutenant Lawrence "Larry" Matson in the episode. This was also the time in his career when he became one of the clients of the William Morris Agency, which has since merged with the Endeavor Talent Agency to become the present-day William Morris-Endeavor agency. As such, he did extensive voice-over work and was heard in hundreds of radio, television and cable advertisements.
In 1967, Somerville's only child from his marriage to Corns, David Orlando Somerville, was born; as an adult, he too became a singer-songwriter like his father, calling himself “Landa” Somerville.
Also in 1967, Dave joined The Four Preps as a replacement for Ed Cobb, the original bass singer. In 1969, he and Bruce Belland, the Four Preps's original lead singer, concentrated on a folk/comedy act as the duo of Belland & Somerville. As such, they appeared in concert with Henry Mancini and Johnny Mathis and were regulars on The Tim Conway Show, a CBS-TV prime-time comedy series. As songwriters, Bruce and Dave co-wrote “The Troublemaker,” which became the title track of two Willie Nelson albums; and the duo sang in a later roster of the Four Preps with Jim Pike of The Lettermen.
1970s and 1980s
In 1972, Somerville formed the group WW Fancy, which also included Keith Barbour and Gail Jensen as members. In the late 1980s, he again sang with original members of The Diamonds and also returned to The Four Preps with Bruce Belland, Ed Cobb and Jim Yester of The Association.
Somerville's song “The (Ballad of the) Unknown Stuntman,” jointly written and composed with Jensen, inspired Glen Larson, who had been the Four Preps's original baritone vocalist, to create the central characters and develop the core format of The Fall Guy, starring Lee Majors, for 20th Century Fox Television, which became a highly successful television series for ABC-TV. With additional lyrics which Larson wrote for it, “The Unknown Stuntman” became the theme for The Fall Guy and earned recognition as the most definitive song about stuntmen. Somerville’s home in the Hollywood Hills was used as the set for the home of Majors’s character, Colt Seavers. (According to the format of The Fall Guy, which co-starred Douglas Barr and Heather Thomas alongside Majors, Seavers supplemented his rather modest stunt-work income as a “bounty hunter,” an informal term for a bail-bond recovery agent.)
1990s and beyond
His first children’s album was titled The Cosmic Adventures of Diamond Dave. It contained many original songs and characters and received critical acclaim in the U.S. and Canada.
The Diamonds have been honored and inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame, The Doo Wop Hall of Fame, The Rockabilly Hall of Fame and are recipients of Canada's prestigious Juno Award.
Somerville's most recent stage show, "On The 1957 Rock & Roll Greyhound Bus,” was based on rock and roll’s first major tour. In it, he told road stories and sang the songs of such pioneer jukebox giants as Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, and Chuck Berry.
- Double Dare, Co-Star, NBC
- Automan, Featured, 20th Century Fox
- Fall Guy, Featured, Co-Wrote Theme, Glen Larson Productions
- Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, Co-Star, Universal
- The Gathering, Star, Metromedia
- Rooster, Principle, 20th Century Fox
- McCloud, Co-Star, Glen Larson Productions
- Star Trek TOS, Featured, Paramount
- Tim Conway Show, Star, CBS
- Steve Allen, Guest Star, NBC
- Merv Griffin Show, Guest Star, KTTV
- Billboard Awards, Star, CBS
- Tonight Show, Guest Star, NBC
- American Bandstand, Guest Star, Dick Clark Productions
- Tony Bennett Show, Guest Star, NBC
- Midnight Special, Guest Star, NBC
- Henry Mancini Special, Guest Star, NBC
- Smothers Bros. Special, Guest Star, NBC
- Spider-Man, principal, Universal
- Perry Como, Guest Star, NBC
- Mike Douglas Show, Guest Star, Mike Douglas Productions
- Doo Wop 51, Star, PBS Special
- Magic Moments, The Best of 50s Pop, Star, PBS Special
- The Big Beat, Star, Universal
- A Sign of the Times, Star, Orsatti Productions
- The Doberman Gang, Principle, Rosamond Productions
- Two Dreams Met, Spence Baldwin, Theatre 206, Los Angeles
- Dew Drop Inn Sam, Cast Theatre, Los Angeles
- City of Simi Valley
- American Trails
- Southwind Recreational Vehicles
- Candle Corporation
- Coleman Camping Gear
- CNR Clothiers
- Avia Shoes
- Motown Records
- Shopping Malls
- The Fall Guy
- Pro Hardware
- Micom Computers
- Carlo Rossi Wine
- International House of Pancakes
- Chicago Rib Broker Restaurants
- Magnum P. I.
Awards as a member of The Diamonds
- 1984 Received a Juno Award and inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
- October 2004, Inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in Sharon, Pa.
- 2006, Inducted into the Doo-Wop Hall of Fame.
- Falcone, Dana Rose (July 16, 2015). "The Diamonds' Dave Somerville dies at age 81". EW.com.