Saturday, May 10, 2014
That was Dave Diamond.
Dave passed away last week. He was a special person and dear friend.
Disc jockeys in the ‘60s tended to be generic. They also followed rigid formats. “Time and temp” guys we called them. Dave Diamond was anything but.
Having been fired from KHJ he wound up at KBLA in Burbank. This station had a worse signal than a baby monitor. While there he pushed the envelope musically, playing long album cuts back in the days when Top 40 stations played less than 40 songs.
And he realized that radio was the medium of imagination. He could create whole worlds. Which he did. Just as Jack Benny delighted listeners in the '30s and '40s with his trips down to his private vault where he kept his money, guarded by alligators and whatnot, Dave Diamond welcomed you to the Diamond Mine. Through poetic psychedelic imagery and sheer bullshit he created this whole mythical Wonderland. And you didn’t have to take LSD to experience it!
Dave perfected his act in 1968 when he joined KFRC, San Francisco to do evenings. Not only was he imaginative and funny, he was also exciting. He kept the adrenaline pumping. One of my favorite Dave Diamond lines: “I am so glad I am not up against myself tonight the way I am COOKING!”
And playing the hits was only one of his many talents. He was a nightclub owner, concert promoter, record producer, and TV personality. The two achievement I was most impressed with back in those days: he discovered Jim Morrison & the Doors, and he won a date with Yvonne Craig on THE DATING GAME.
In later years he became a novelist. Dave has written some fantastic noir thrillers and western epics. And his poetry has won awards and been featured in numerous prestigious collections.
He taught creative writing at Black Hills State University in South Dakota, and until his recent health issues forced him to retire he was making plans for me to come up there and guest lecture. Considering how captivating he was that one time at the KHJ reunion, I can only imagine how amazing his student lectures were.
My favorite Dave Diamond story is this: I was recently at a high school reunion and spoke to a girl who once worked for him. She was 16 at the time, very pretty, and met Diamond at some event. He was looking for a personal assistant and hired her. You think you know where this is going but you don’t. Dave never propositioned her, and like I said – she was very hot. He treated her with the upmost respect, wrote her letters of recommendation, helped her get later work, and remained a trusted friend and advisor. Trust me, a disc jockey in the mid 1960’s – this was unheard of. But that’s the kind of straight up guy Dave Diamond was. And this was a side of him I would never have known had she not told me.
Dave Diamond was a master storyteller who enriched the lives of everyone who ever heard him, saw him, or read him. Thanks for the inspiration Dave, which continues to this day.
Here’s an example of the Diamond Mine from the Diamond Mind.
And here's Dave's appearance on THE DATING GAME. Coincidentally, Bachelor #3 later guested on an episode of THE TONY RANDALL SHOW David Isaacs and I wrote.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM