David-Troy Somerville, co-founder and lead singer of ’50s rock ‘n’ roll band The Diamonds, died in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Tuesday. He was 81. According to a press release, “Diamond Dave” died from cancer.
Somerville founded The Diamonds in November 1953 after meeting a vocal group while waiting to audition for a talent show. He became their coach and then their lead singer.
The Diamonds charted 16 hit singles on Billboard’s various charts in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including top 10s with “Little Darlin’,” “Silhouettes” and “The Stroll.”
In 1957, “Little Darlin'” spent eight weeks at No. 2 on the Best Sellers in Stores chart, which was the leading singles chart before the launch of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958. The smash finished as the No. 3 song on Billboard’s year-end recap of the Best Sellers in Stores chart, behind only Elvis Presley‘s “All Shook Up” (No. 1) and Pat Boone‘s “Love Letters in the Sand” (No. 2).
Somerville left The Diamonds to pursue a solo career under the name David Troy but later joined a group called The Four Preps. In 1969, he left The Four Preps with fellow lead singer Bruce Belland and formed a new duo called Belland and Somerville.
Somerville has been inducted into five music halls of fame: the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Doo Wop Music Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame, Doo Wop Hall of Fame of America and Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He also received a nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The pop rock star is survived by his wife Denise, his son David and his grandson Chilao. Funeral dates have yet to be released.
–Additional reporting by Keith Caulfield