Little Darlin'

Album: Diamonds Collection (1957)
Charted: 3 2


  • This was originally recorded by The Gladiolas, a black vocal group from rural Lancaster, South Carolina. After coming up with the song, they scrimped up enough money to record it in Nashville at the end of 1956. Early in 1957, it was released on the Excello label as their first single, going to #11 on the R&B charts. The song took off when it was covered later that year by The Diamonds, a white group from Canada that had a hit with the Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers song "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?" the previous year.

    The Gladiolas later changed their name to Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs. In 1960, they topped the Hot 100 with "Stay."
  • This was written by Gladiolas leader Maurice Williams, inspired by the same girl who was the subject of "Stay." Williams says he was madly in love with her, but couldn't make it work. In the song, he admits his mistake (trying to love two) and makes a play for her affection.
  • In doo-wop tradition, there are lots of nonsense vocalizations in this song, like "ah ya ya ya" and "wella wella." Some words in the lyrics are also augmented for the sake of the sound, like changing "wrong" to "wrong-a."
  • On the US charts, this came about as close to #1 as you could get without reaching the top spot: it stayed at #2 for eight weeks.
  • The main rhythm in the original version of this song was created with a Brazilian instrument called the claves, which are hardwood sticks struck together. The Diamonds used castanets instead; both versions also incorporated a cowbell.
  • This was featured in the films American Graffiti (1973) and Ishtar (1987).
  • This song made it to Woodstock thanks to Sha Na Na, who performed it at the festival. They went on in the early morning just before the closing act, Jimi Hendrix.
  • Elvis Presley released this on his last album, Moody Blue, which was issued shortly before his death in 1977.

Comments: 9

  • Skip from United States.@Tony :
    I just read 30 minutes ago, that Elvis really liked this group.
    I was around when Elvis first started singing on the radio. Over the last 60 years, I have noticed Elvis doesn't bad-mouth other peoples work. I have seen him make fun of his own work. Not sure which wacky version you speak of. I saw the Diamonds do it with Maurice Williams, the writer, and basically it sounded like the other versions I have heard. Sure, one guy gets out a handkerchief and plays with it somewhat, but after performing it half a million times since 1957, it still sounds better than those artists that completely change everything about a song they had 15 years ago.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer:
    David Somerville, lead singer with the Diamonds, passed away Tuesday (July 14th, 2015) from prostate cancer in Santa Barbara, California at the age of 81...
    Born in Guelph, Ontario, Dave was employed as an engineer by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto while studying music...
    It was at the CBC that he met a local quartet and became their vocal coach...
    With the departure of their lead singer, Dave took over and the Diamonds were born...
    A trip to New York led to a win on Arthur Godfrey's "Talent Scouts" program and a recording contract with Mercury Records...
    The group was used primarily on "covers" of R&B tunes, such as "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" (#12-1956), "Church Bells May Ring" (#14-1956), "The Stroll" (#4-1958) and "Little Darlin'" (#2-1957)...
    However, they later hit with original tunes such as "Kathy-O" (#16-1958) and "She Say" (#18-1959). Dave left the Diamonds in 1962 and performed solo and perused an acting career as David Troy...
    He later joined the Four Preps and even toured with the Preps' Bruce Belland in a duo...
    He was a well-regarded voice-over actor and co-wrote the theme song for Lee Majors' TV show, "The Fall Guy." Dave and the Diamonds were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1984), the Vocal Group Hall of Fame (2004) and the Doo-Wop Hall of Fame (2006)...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 28th 1957, the Diamonds' covered version of "Little Darlin'" entered Billboard's Top 100 chart at position #67; and on April 11th, 1957 it peaked at #2 {for 8 weeks} and spent a half-year on the chart {26 weeks}...
    One week before it peaked at #2, the original version by the Gladiolas peaked at #41 on the Top 100...
    For all eight weeks the Diamond's version was at #2 on the Top 100, the #1 record was "All Shook Up" by Elvis...
    The Diamonds also reached #2 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Most Played by R&B Jockeys chart; and the #1 record for that week, bet you guessed it, Elvis with "All Shook Up"...
    David Somerville, the group's co-founder and original lead singer, will celebrate his 82nd birthday this coming October 2nd {2015}.
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaBob Fisher...thanks for telling us about the recording history on this tune...So often this has been the case...just a few minutes left of recording time, and the group or individual squeezes in a tune at the last moment and it becomes the hit!
  • John from Eugene, OrOne of my pet peeves was how serious a love song "Little Darlin' was yet whenever you would see The Diamonds perform it they would goof with it and try to make fun of what the lyrics were saying;(like they were embarrassed to do it straight) UNTIL the PBS Rock n' Roll Special! Finally, they did it like they meant it. I don't like 'talkies' in songs but in this recording it worked. Dave Sommerville also sang bass vocal with the Four Preps (26 miles/Santa Catalina) he was one of the first replacements and he stuck with them.
  • Tony from Dordrecht, Netherlands"If you buy this, you'd buy anything" (Elvis comment after a wacky version of this song, during one of his tours in 1977)
    -Tony Versluis, Dordrecht, The Netherlands
  • Bob Fisher from Los Angeles, CaThe Diamonds had finished a recording session but had 15 minutes of time left in the studio rental. Someone ran out and brought in a demo of Little Darlin. They practiced it and recorded in in 15 minutes. Since some of the musicians had already left....there is no drummer on the song!
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesBobby Rydell's "Cherie" (the 'B' side of "Good Time Baby") used the melody of "Little Darlin'", just as his previous hit "Kissin' Time" had also copied "Sweet Little Sixteen".
  • Jonnie from St. Louis, MoA few years back, on a PBS "Rock n' Roll" Special,
    The Diamonds were reunited for the show and did "Little Darlin'". But the highlight came when Diamond's lead singer Dave Sommerville invited the original writer/singer of the song, Maurice Williams, who was also on the show, to sing a chorus of the song with them. It was pure "Rock n' Roll" History ! Luckily I video taped this historic moment, and it is a sheer joy to watch these consumate professionals 'duo' on one of the most-played-all-time classics of rock!
    Jonnie King/WSSM Radio/St.Louis
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