The untold story of Brian Diamond & the Cutters!
(by Harry Houben with special thanks to Carl, Cherie and Alan Greenwell
also to Keith Ridgewell, Patricia and Brian Dimond)
(c) Harry Houben 02/2009
(Harry Houben, Birkenweg 6a, 26203 Wardenburg-Tungeln, Tel. 0176-99389393, Email: email@example.com)
AL BRIAN JOHNNY LES
The story starts in the South of London.
Brian Dimond told me:
I was born and raised in Tooting, South London in 1936.
When I was a teenager I was one of the notorious Teddy Boys
with my Tony Curtis hairstyle and draped jacket.
I bought my first guitar, a Höfner Verithin Semi acoustic guitar.
In a short time I formed a Skiffle Group, what fun that was!
Then I formed a group called The Side Kicks
1959 at the “The Castle”, Tooting.
Also known as the Allstars in between:
The Allstars with Brian Dimond, Arthur Bonny, Alan Rose,
Douglas Steeds (who was not in the band) Pianist Derrick ? and Lenny Moorehouse!
Douglas Steeds wrote about this photo:
The venue was The Craven Club in Battersea.
The date on the top right reads 26/02/1960.
This band was the 1st band to use the prototype Watkins Copicat
at the Wimbledon Palais although history does not show this.
There was a guy called Len Overton the father of Budgie Overton Bass player
in the band who was working on the prototype at his home for old man Watkins
who had a shop in Balham and let the Band try it out.
Thank you for this all, Douglas!
The Side Kicks (1959 - 1961)
Alan Rose (vocals)
Arthur Bonny (drums)
Budgie Overton (bass)
Brian Dimond (rhythm guitar)
Lenny Moorehouse (lead guitar)
We played various gigs in the South London area,
including the very popular London Pub “The Castle”, Tooting.
The best Group playing there was The Earl Baron 5,
fronted by a very popular singer called John Upchurch,
a really nice guy.
John had his singer leaving him and ask Brian to audition for the band.
Brian was very nervous and walked to the mike shaking.
He sang Del Shannons "Runaway" and hit all the high notes.
They were impressed and he was in!
That was where Brian met Al, Les and John!
A sax player, named Geof Gill shortly joined the The Earl Baron 5.
Then there was six in the band.
Les - Johnny - Al - John - Brian - Geof
Four wonderful videos you can see on BRITISH PATHÉ ...
Search for: Earl Baron Five. Sorry - it's without sound...
Leslie "Les" Charles Thatcher – he worked in an office and was a first class guitarist for that time
John “Johnny” Poole – he was a butcher and played bass-guitar
Alan “Al” Greenwell – he was an electrician on the railway and played drums & sang
Brian Dimond - he worked in a Dry Cleaners and sang & played guitar
have a look...
They were the top band down the Castle for quite a while,
then Les became restless, he wanted bigger things!
Everyone could understand why, he was a very good guitarist,
he loved playing jazz and later went on to be a session man
backing big names.
Alan was also thinking the same way, once again
they all knew he was far to good to stay playing in Pubs.
Les decided he wanted his own four piece band.
Alan decided to join him, so did John, the bass player.
And then they asked Brian if he would agree to sing with them.
At this time Brian was working in a well known Dry Cleaners
and it meant leaving his job, a big risk in those days!
But he did...
Now they called themselves Brian Diamond & the Cutters
After they turned Professional they were offered a record
contract on the prestigious Decca lable.
Beatles-Photographer Dezo Hoffmann made this beautiful picture!
with special thanks to Erol Sommer
and two more from Germany
Autograph from 1964
Brian began writing songs and Les did the arrangements.
Together they wrote some titles and in 1963 they made the first record on the Decca label (F.11724).
“Jealousy Will Get You Nowhere” c/w “Brady Brady”
The B-side was written by Lomax and it sounds like a little skiffle-style.
Producer was Bunny Lewis
Brian told me:
Our first record was "Jealously Will Get You Nowhere",
which was voted a hit on a popular music programme
on television called Juke Box Jury!
Sadly the record was never played again in England
on the radio or television although we kept writing in
requesting it, the DJ's always said they didn't have
that record but I will play this one instead.
In 1964 the second single came out on the Fontana label (TF.452).
“Shout, Shake & Go” c/w “Wotcha Gonna Do Now Pretty Baby”
Both titles were written by Diamond/Thatcher.
It was a little more successful than the first.
There was another single came out 1964 on the Metronome label (B.1599).
On the cover the name Dimond was written without an “a” because it's his real name.
“Wotcha Gonna Do Now” (same song as on the single above) c/w “I’ll Get You Back One Day”
The B-side was written by Michael Browning.
The largest success came in 1965 when the fourth single was released on the PYE label
“Big Bad Wolf” c/w “See If I Care”
Both titles are Brian Diamond compositions.
The songs were also released in Europe on Vogue (DV.14334)
and in the U.S.A. on Hickory (45-1321).
with special thanks to Samuel Coomans
for this very rare German Cover
In the same year 1965 the fifth single was published. Also on the PYE label (7N15952).
“Bone Idol” c/w “Sands Of Time”
The A-side was a Brian Diamond composition. The B-side was written by Paul James.
Brian told me:
When I wrote the song "Bone Idle", the company
Pye Records spelt the title wrong.
Idol has nothing to do with the lyrics,
Idle is about a lazy person.
In 1965 they made a German version of the Big Bad Wolf single on Vogue (DV.14336).
“Keine Angst Little Woman” (Big Bad Wolf) c/w “Daisy Lu” (See If I Care)
The German words for the A-side done by Mr. Montague (Lawrence “Larry” M. Yaskiel)
And for the B-side by Mr. Kröll (no more informations)
Brian told me:
We made several records, that unfortunately
hardly got played in England!
I made, as you know, "Big Bad Wolf".
Two German lyric writers asked me to record
this in German.
They spoke the words to me and I wrote them
down in pigeon English. After one take they
said it was perfect. I was offered a contract with
Deutsche Vogue, but it would have meant leaving
the Cutters and my family behind.
And I was hoping for better chances in England.
Brian Diamond sang the A-side as a solo performance on German TV Show
“Die aktuelle Schaubude”, produced for the NDR in Hamburg.
Brian told me:
I appeared on German television!
I have a photo of this, I will send you.
I heard the record went high in the Austrian charts.
Unfortunately, the Cutters eventually went our separate ways!
Brian Diamond in front of a TV-camera
(In German: Es war ca. Sommer 1965. Wenn jemand einen Mitschnitt dieses
Auftritts besorgen kann, möge er sich bitte umgehend melden!) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
And now some more spots of their career:
Their agent was Chris Beresford and they were part of the Robert Stigwood Package Show
that toured all over the UK with names like John Leyton and Mike Sarne.
Later on with Craig Douglas, Tony Orlando, Millie Small, Grazina Frame, Billy Boyle
to name a few of the stars of the 60's they backed. (click on the pictures for further information)
New interesting information from Phil Rylance aka Phil Ryan. Thank you Phil!
During all the gigs there was always time for some jokes.
In 1964 they also did a spot on the Film “The Beauty Jungle” as a circus-band.
German "Musik Parade" from Aug. 1965
Look at the Dance-Club-Bestseller in STAR CLUB NEWS No.9 (Sept. 1965)
Among other things they played in Dunstable at the California Ballroom.
Here are the complete gig lists from 1964 and 1965.
And in Ramsey at the Gaiety Ballromm
And many more...
Brian told me:
We embarked on an extensive tour of England
and Scotland, travelling in a mini bus.
On two occasions we played in Germany
in Trier and Mannheim. Even with our hopes held high,
we were always poorly paid, and this contributed to the eventual break-up.
Two pics from Mannheim, Germany
In 1965/66 they did an European Tour.
Here are two rare pictures of them in Antwerp, with their wives and guys from an Italian band.
After the tour the band disbanded!
Alan went into nightclubs, theatres, hotels, radio broadcasts & a week on the “QE2”.
Brian went back to the Dry Cleaners
became the manager & then owner and was still gigging.
Les went into session work, did very well.
John became a long distance lorry driver and moved away.
They have not heard from each others in many years...
31. Aug. 2009 Al and Brian & their wives met up again
after 45 years! It was a wonderful reunion!
Alan with 71
This is what Alan Greenwell wrote to me about the band:
thank you so much for your kind remarks.
All of us felt that we were just an ordinary band of the 60's.
We worked hard to keep up with the good bands that were around at that time.
I'm sure I speak for all the band, when I say that there was nothing big time about them.
They were all modest about their playing abilities.
You asked about the band:
Brian was the rhythm guitarist and lead singer.
A handsome young man with a voice similar to Slim Whitman & Frank Ifield.
He loved country music and could reach some really high notes.
Brian also liked to write his own songs, which Les would arrange the music for us all .
Although Brian Diamond was the name, in the band he was a very modest man, friendly
and out going, always willing to help others and always ready for a laugh.
As a band we got on very well, as did our wives.
It was a sad day when we decided to go our different ways!
D Les was a first class musician, schooled at an early age on classic guitar.
He could read anything and would get all excited at buying a
new sheet of music for classic guitar duet pieces.
He had many guitars, an acoustic Gibson and a Spanish guitar,
also a twelve string guitar which he used on recordings.
His electric guitars included Gibson & Gretch, along with others.
I can’t remember what they were. He had so many of them.
The people that he admired and studied were:
John Williams (Classical) , Django Reinhardt and Barney Kessel (Jazz)
and also guitarists of the day for pop & country music.
His teacher was a man called Roy Plumber, a brilliant session man .
Les was NOT a pop guitarist , but played all styles very, very well.
When the band broke up Les & I did gigs together for some time.
He later went on to work with the top big bands, recording & TV-jingles.
Les was a good friend!
We had a lot of laughs together, he had such a good sense of humour,
he was the only single man in the group. A dedicated musician, a great guy!
He spent a lot of time with me & my family.
Les was the ARRANGER of all the music.
Brian would have an idea and it was Les that put the music on paper .
It was great to play with Les instrumentally.
Especially when he did his solo spot.
And as a backing for Brian & I singing .
He was a power house!!!
This is one of Les Thatchers' LPs, which was also released in the U.S.A.
Further titles are:
"Multiple Guitars" & "Romantic Guitars Play Hit Songs"
Les Thatcher appears on:
"Tumbleweed Connection" (Elton John)
"Madman Across The Water" (Elton John)
"Greatest Hits" / "Greatest Hits Vol. 2" (Elton John)
"Schizophonia" / "Tarot Suite" (Mike Batt)
"Cavern Stomp" (The Big Three)
"Alvin Stardust" / "Untouchable" (Alvin Stardust)
"The Road Is No Place For A Lady" / "Don't Call Me Mama" (Cass Elliot)
"My Huckleberry Friend" (Soundtrack)
"The British Invasion" / "The British Invasion Vol. 2" (Symphonic Rock)
"American Classics" (Symphonic Rock)
and many more...
He played all kinds of guitars, a banjo & a tuba.
And here is a wonderful little story from December 2014...
Thank you so much, Martin!
Johnny died in 2001 - more information will follow...
Johnny was a very nice man, he was older than the rest of us.
Quite spoken and had a good sense of humour - a great dart player!!!
He was the calming influence of the band. Not that we had problems with each other,
just the circumstances of travelling around and business etc.
John dealt with all the physical needs of the band, transport, food, lodgings, finance & PA system.
He made sure we all had a good sound.
John was part of the Earl Barron 7. He was a good competent bass player!
He kept the band in time and was able to push the band when needed.
He would have us in stitches with his jokes, on stage and off.
A really great guy!
Yes, I had a Ludwig kit, with Zildjian cymbals which I still use with a bigger bass drum.
Bought in 1962 thought to be the first one in the country!
It came from a cruise ship musician who sold it in England .
Having no transport of our own we took it home on the subway and bus!!!
It still sounds good after 40 + years.
Al on drums & singing 2007
Al on drums 20.07.2012
My mentor was the brilliant British Jazz drummer Kenny Clare (you can see him on youtube).
I studied a lot of the big Jazz drummers of the day,
Buddy Rich, Max Roach, Philly Jo Jones, Louis Belson, etc.
When pop began, Harvey Mason, Steve Gad among others, who could put it together well.
The time with the band was a good experience for me, with drum solo features.
I practiced my reading on the long journeys and it started my singing career.
I would share the vocals with Brian for the British audience with songs from
the Kinks, the Animals, the Rolling Stones etc.
Using arrangements from Les and his playing ability .
We always went down well.
We had fun and we were all good friends!
The good old days!
But the history continues...
Brian with 71
Some notes from Brian Dimond:
After the Cutters I then formed a Band called The Exit.
We stayed together for 22 years and worked constantly
every weekend at various Hotels in London.
Also private functions playing cover versions and standards,
to suit the occasion.
The Exit 1973
The Exit 1974 live
The Exit 1985 live
The Exit 1985
Look for more information:
George Gillam - Bonanza-Studios.co.uk
The Exit with Brian singing.
I eventually decided to quit the band work when I was 60!
I know you will so pleased Al and Cherie came over
to our house for a reunion after 45 years!
All because you were determined to make it happen
and get us together again.
We had a wonderful day, the weather was perfect
and we sat in the garden and caught up with all the things
that had happened over the years.
I would have recognised Al anywhere,
he hadn't changed, just got older. Cherie is still the lively,
lovely girl she always was so many years ago.
All the best,
Alan & Brian
A rare cover from Denmark 1965
and from Sweden
Some more nice pictures are here:
Brian Diamond & the Cutters on CD
Track 10 See If I Care Track11 Shout, Shake & Go Track 18 Big Bad Wolf
Track 07 Bone Idol
Track 09 Keine Angst Little Woman
Track 14 Wotcha Gonna Do Now
Track 22 Daisy Lu
Track 30 I'll Get You Back One Day
Track 10 Keine Angst Little Woman
Track 24 Shout, Shake & Go
Track 24 Shout, Shake & Go
Here's a medley of all Brian Diamond & The Cutters titles
(c) Harry Houben 2009