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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS : Singing Old Gems : Diamonds' hits haven't lost their luster for the lead singer of the '50s group.

November 11, 1994|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The year is 1957. You and your significant other are cruising in your Chevy. The radio is blaring a new song by a singing group called the Diamonds. The world is right and you're in love.

You can recapture some of the magic this weekend, right here in the San Fernando Valley.

David Somerville, lead singer for the 1950s singing group the Diamonds, will be singing at Foley's Family Restaurant in Shadow Hills tonight.

The Diamonds were a Canadian vocal group that had 16 hits between 1956 and 1961, 10 of which were cover versions of songs previously recorded by R & B artists. Their biggest hit was "Little Darlin'," a song originally done by the Gladiolas.

"It was the fifth song in a four-song session," Somerville remembers. "It was 3 or 4 in the morning; we rehearsed it and cut it."

The Diamonds' version stayed at No. 2 in the charts for eight consecutive weeks in 1957. According to Billboard, it still holds the record for the second-longest run at the No. 2 position. Somerville remembers a singer named Elvis Presley was in first place during that eight-week stretch.

Other hits by the Diamonds included "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?", "The Stroll" and "Silhouettes." The Diamonds toured with such rock / pop pioneers as Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Paul Anka and Little Anthony.

Today, almost 40 years later, Somerville, 61, is still at it. He recently made two recordings: an album of songs written by Clyde Otis, who penned the Diamonds' million-seller, "The Stroll," and a children's music album, "The Cosmic Adventures of Diamond Dave in Dreamtown."

Somerville spends a lot of time on the road, appearing in '50s nostalgia shows and also as part of the New Four Preps. For the past three years--when he's not traveling--the Hollywood Hills resident has used Foley's as a Friday night musical workshop.

"I love it," he says. "I love to see people light up when I sing something that was a hit years ago."

David Somerville performs from 7 to 10 tonight at Foley's Family Restaurant, 9685 Sunland Blvd., Shadow Hills. No cover. Call (818) 353-7433.

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REMEMBRANCE: The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony will perform the closing concert of its season, "The Symphony Sings," on Sunday. Noreen Green, the ensemble's music director, has selected works by Dimitri Shostakovich, Serge Prokofiev, Eric Zeisl and Valley resident Michael Isaacson.

Isaacson, whose piece "Ezkerah--In Memory of My Mother" will premiere Sunday, has worked extensively as a composer, arranger and conductor in film and television, in addition to conducting and producing recordings of the Munich Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, the Mexico City Symphony, the Tel Aviv Symphony and others.

Isaacson says that he wrote "Ezkerah" (Hebrew for remembrance) as his way of dealing with the pain of his mother's death, and that the piece reflects her identity and their relationship.

He also says that, for a composer, the performance of a work is usually a moment of confirmation.

"The artist will be confirming and the son will be remembering," Isaacson said of Sunday's performance. "There will be two parts of me sitting there."

The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony performs at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Adat Ari El, 12020 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. Tickets are $36 for reserved seating, $18 general admission, and $10 students and senior citizens. Call (818) 753-6681.

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STILL LAUGHING: "Thursday Nite Live" is entering its third year at the L. A. Connection Comedy Theatre, and producer Steve North thinks that he knows why.

"People are tired of the standard stand-up comedy club format," he says. "This is different; people can't get it in the clubs or on television. It's a cross between theater and stand-up."

The show, directed and produced by North and his wife, Barb, has a cast of eight stand-up comedians drawn from a rotating ensemble of about 30 performers. Using different people each week allows the show to constantly change, North says. Also, it uses videos on a giant screen, groups of stand-up comics all on stage at the same time and other comic inventions to offer an alternative to the usual string of one comic after another.

"It's like taking eight comedians and cross-wiring them," North said. "We're more character-based. This is an actual show that has a beginning, a middle and an end."

"Thursday Nite Live" begins at 9 p.m. Thursdays (except Thanksgiving) at the L. A. Connection Comedy Theatre, 13442 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Admission is $8. Call (818) 710-1320.

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TOON TIME: The International Animated Film Society--Hollywood will give its nod to the best in animation at its 22nd annual Annie Awards ceremony Saturday at the Academy Plaza Theatre in North Hollywood. Actor Mark Hamill will serve as master of ceremonies.

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