Gary Bright, the president and CEO of the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce, leaned back in his chair at his office at The Towne Center on Homestead Rd., and spoke of the days he worked as a deejay for a popular radio show. He remembers playing "the good stuff" and getting to meet some of the earlier rock and roll greats. Later as chamber director in Iowa, he remembers getting The Diamonds - the popular rock and roll group that made Little Darling famous when they started in 1954 - to put on a show as a fundraiser.
"They were fantastic," Bright said. "They are great entertainers even today as they have continued to travel the country and overseas.
Bright has booked them for Lehigh Acres to put on their famous Christmas show. The date is December 8 at 7 p.m. at the Lehigh Senior High School auditorium on Gunnery Road North. Accent Business Products is helping sponsor it.
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The Diamonds plan to perform their gala Christmas show in Lehigh in early December. Tickets on sale.
Tickets have gone on sale this week at the chamber's office at 25 Homestead Rd. in the Lehigh Towne Center on the corner of Alabama and Homestead roads. Tickets are $27 and $22.
"The $27 tickets are the first few front rows while the other tickets are seats from there onto the back. No matter where you sit in the school auditorium, you will have a great view," Bright said. The school auditorium is large and has hosted different political events over the past few years and other community events.
"They come out on stage and put on one fantastic show singing the greats that they made famous in the early days of rock and roll, songs like Little Darlin' - the song that made them famous with a million copies of the record at the start and today, the sale of Little Darlin' has hit more than 20 million copies.
"Other hits people will remember are The Stroll, Church Bells May Ring, Why Do Fools Fall in Love and One Summer Night, just to mention a few. Then they take a break and come back and do their Christmas show. The combined show will likely be close to two hours long," Bright said.
"I was only four years old when they started out with Little Darlin' and I became a fan of theirs as I grew older. Those golden oldies are among some of the best music ever made," Bright said.
The diamonds performance is a fundraiser for the chamber which uses the money to fund community projects such as college scholarship giveaways.
The Diamonds say they see the durability of the 50s music as a lesson as much about the future as about the past.
The group says it has been pleased to find a growing audience among the age group 25 and up. These people have graduated from loudness and sheer volume, to an appreciation of quality, style, and entertainment value in music. They like songs they can remember tomorrow, or even 20 years from now, they say on a website.
Among the Diamonds is the top tenor, bob Duncan who became a part of the group in 1979, joining long time bass singer John Felton. Bass singer Jerry Siggins spent five summers at Jackson Hole's Pink Garter Theater and has guest starred on The tonight show, tony Orlando and Dawn, and the Love Boat before settling down as a permanent member of The Diamonds.
Steve Smith has been the lead singer with The Diamonds since 1982 and Bob Duncan calls him a powerful lead singer with a recognizable voice, and that's something every quartet needs. He was the solo male voice on The Lawrence Welk Show for five years in the mid-60s and also sang lead with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
Baritone singer Gary Owens has spent the longest time as a Diamond, joining forces with John Felton in 1975. Besides singing and playing saxophone and flute, Owens does most of the vocal arranging for The Diamonds.
Top tenor Bob Duncan calls his group "four distinctive individuals with one strong group personality.
"The four of us as a unit have a special chemistry, and it is that chemistry that gives us our unique identity," he said.
Local chamber president Bright said The Diamonds put on a great family entertainment performance.
"And when they hear some of those famous hits," they will remember those days a half century ago. And the younger people who now have become fans are helping the Diamonds to continue a tradition," he said.