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The History of Diamond Records

This website is under construction. It will be updated as information is given to me, or discovered by me. Input is welcome, especially from those who were actually involved with the label at any time.

The real details about this famous independant record company are not well known, partly since most of the people involved heavily with the label are now deceased or are missing in action. If you know anyone who was involved with Diamond records in any way (an artist, producer, or arranger perhaps) from its beginning in 1961 to its demise around late 1969(or its incarnation into Certron records in 1970), please let me know so I can talk to them and get some information for this website.

Diamond records was started 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) in 1961. Joe and Phil were the sons of Bernard and Toby Kolsky, and they also had older brothers Nat (Nathan) Kolsky (1910-1991), Harold Kolsky (1912-1988) and Wolfe Kolsky (birth and death dates unknown). From the beginning, Diamond Records was located at 1650 Broadway in New York City, right across from the famous Brill Building. Five years earlier in 1957, Phil and Joe had helped co-found Roulette records, which gave the start to the careers of Buddy Knox, Jimmy Bowen, Tommy James and the Shondells, Jimmie Rodgers, The Playmates, and many others.

Some sources say that it was Joe Kolsky who was the president of Diamond, and that Phil Kahl was only the head of A&R. Regardless, they were both involved with the label-Phil helped produce artists on the label often. When promotional 45s for the label were sent out, they were often accompanied by blue promo sheets the size of the 45 sleeve that would sometimes contain an artist's picture, sometimes it would list biographical information, and sometimes the lyrics to the song would be printed on them. But always, the record would be promoted on the sheets by Joe Kolsky with his preprinted signature on them, and never Phil Kahl.

Diamond had many big artists on its roster at one time or another. Some of their more well known artists 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. Link Wray wrote both sides to Ronnie's first Diamond single, Sweeter Than Sugar b/w I Believed In You (Diamond D-163). There are arguments over whether Link Wray was Fred L. Wray, Sr. or Fred L. Wray, Jr., but the songs appeared written by F.L. Wray, Sr. and they were definitely Link's songs. The mono single versions of both sides of Ronnie Dove's debut Diamond label 45 have never appeared on cd, and differ slightly from the stereo album versions.

Even though Diamond had many famous acts signed to the label during its lifespan, the label had only one guy who was a constant charting artist for all years that he was on the label. Ronnie Dove scored a number 40 hit with his second release for Diamond when "Say You" charted in 1964, and continued to have chart successes up through mid 1969 with "I Need You Now". Ronnie ended up with an impressive run of 20 hot 100 hits out of 23 released records (with one more track hitting the Bubbling Under chart). The only records of his that did not chart at all were his first and last for the label. The only other Diamond artist to come anywhere close to that kind of success was Johnny Thunder, who had a monster of a hit with Loop De Loop, his first release for the label, which got to #4 on the hot 100 in 1962. His only other chart hit would be "Make Love To Me", a duet with Ruby Winters in 1967 which barely dented the pop charts, but fared better on the R&B charts. His first hit was also enough to warrent the release of a full length album, which was also released in true stereo. Aside from that album and a promotional lp by Ruby Winters (listed in price guides, I have never personally seen an actual copy of the album or even a picture of it), every other album for Diamond was released by Ronnie Dove, of which the first 3 were each released with more than half of the songs in true stereo (but with at least one track on each lp in rechanneled stereo). Every album released after Ronnie's first Greatest Hits album was in true stereo all the way through, however they have not appeared on compact disc that way.

In 1969, Diamond was sold to the Edwin H. Morris corporation, which was owned by Columbia Records at the time, and was based at 31 West 64th Street in New York City, and by early 1970, Diamond records had been sold to the music division of the Certron corporation. At that time, it was run by a guy named Aubrey Mayhew. Certron released a few singles and plenty of albums that bombed, which could be the reason for their demise. Some of the artists that were originally on Diamond (including Ruby Winters, The Bleus (as the Electric Hand Band on Certron) and Ronnie Dove (who had a greatest hits lp released on the label with one previously unreleased song, but released no singles for them). In less than two years, Certron went bankrupt, 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 that was planned for release on Certron.

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, but no one can trace where all of the tapes went even from those record issues onward. To this day, no one seems to know exactly who owns Diamond records, or where the original master tapes for the record company are. I would suspect that Aubrey Mayhew may still own them (even if he no longer has the tapes and just owns the copyrights on the recordings), and if he does, I personally would love to see him release some of that label's music onto cd. If you know anything about the whereabouts of any of the missing Diamond or Certron master tapes, drop me an email, i'd love to hear from you.

In 1988, Ronnie Dove resurrected the Diamond records label name and released 2 singles (both placed in the top 90 on the national Country charts, and one went to #1 locally in Baltimore). Ronnie also claims to own the rights to his original Diamond recordings, allegedly having bought them back along with a partner from some guy in the 1980's. Ronnie doesn't remember the name of his partner or the guy he bought the rights from, however.

Both Joe Kolsky and Phil Kahl retired to Florida, Joe lived in Pompano Beach and Phil lived in Boca Raton. Joe died on May 8, 1997 and Phil followed on March 13, 2000. I've been told that singer Shaye Cogan was married to one of the Kolsky brothers, possibly Phil, however I have been unable to locate any family members for either of them. I also have never found any obituary listings. Ray Vernon, another major figure around Diamond records (He produced alot of recordings with Phil Kahl for the label) died in 1979. It is unknown if he had copies of the Diamond record tapes at the time of his death, but it's rumored that when he sold his family's farm before he died, he buried all of the tapes that he did have at that farm. Sadly, Link Wray also passed away on November 5, 2005, before I ever had a chance to get in touch with him to confirm his involvement with the label, so now some questions may never get answered.

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Tom Diehl, Webmaster
Last updated 5/28/2006