July 2021

Scottish bands-Music. Jim Diamond.

James Aaron Diamond (28 September 1951 – 8 October 2015) was a Scottish singer-songwriter, best known for his three Top 5 hits: “I Won’t Let You Down” (1982), as the lead singer of PhD; and his solo performances “I Should Have Known Better”, a United Kingdom No. 1 in 1984, and “Hi Ho Silver”, the theme song from Boon, which reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart in 1986.

He started his music career at the age of 15 with Tony Divers band, The Method. When aged 16, he also fronted a Glasgow band called Jade. That line-up included bassist Chris Glen who went on to play with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, and Jim Lacey on lead guitar who later went on to join the Alan Bown Set. Jade played many pub, club and college gigs in London in 1969, playing at Brunel University, West London College in Cricklewood, The Pied Bull in Islington, West Hampstead Country Club, another college in Virginia Water and many more in 1969. They also supported the Move on their Scottish tour with The Stoics in the same year.

He later toured Europe with Gully Foyle. Rare recordings of his performances with Gully Foyle were recently discovered on the internet.

Alexis Korner then discovered Diamond, who spent the next couple of years as part of Korner’s band. He provided additional and backing vocals on many of Korner’s songs, most of which would appear on The Lost Album.

Diamond left Korner in 1976, to form Bandit. The line-up included future AC/DC member Cliff Williams. They were soon signed up by Arista Records and released a début album, Bandit, which failed to reach the chart. In 1979, Diamond was lead vocalist for a Japanese band called BACCO, whose debut album was Cha Cha Me.

He went to Los Angeles, California to form Slick Diamond with Earl Slick. He spent some time touring and recording and provided music for a film soundtrack.

Big break

In 1981, Diamond formed PhD (Phillips, Hymas and Diamond), with pianist/keyboard player Tony Hymas and drummer Simon Phillips. They were signed by WEA Records and had a hit single with the multi-million selling “I Won’t Let You Down”.

The band later decided to part ways. In 1984, he decided to go solo and was signed to A&M Records. He had a number-one hit with “I Should Have Known Better” and was also number one in Latin America. Bob Geldof praised Diamond for publicly encouraging fans to buy the Band Aid single instead of his own.

He scored another hit soon afterward with the theme song from Boon, “Hi Ho Silver”. It reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart in May 1986. Diamond is also known for some guest vocals on two Genesis band members’ solo outings, including:

“You Call This Victory” (from the movie Starship) on the album Soundtracks by Tony Banks in 1986.
“Days of Long Ago” on the album Darktown by Steve Hackett in 1999.
The 1999 compilation The Best of Jim Diamond compiles singles and B-sides from his short time with A&M Records.

Later years

In the late 1990s, Diamond teamed up with saxophonist Chris “Snake” Davis, known for his work with soul outfit M People. The pair were known as The Blue Shoes, but were later billed as Jim Diamond and Snake Davis.

In 2005, Diamond released his first studio album in eleven years, Souled and Healed. The singles “When You Turn” and “Blue Shoes” were released from this. In 2009 he re-united with Tony Hymas to produce a third PhD album entitled “Three”.

Jim Diamond’s last album, City of Soul, released by Camino Records in 2011, featured among others Wet Wet Wet drummer Tommy Cunningham and Greg Kane of Hue and Cry. All proceeds from this album of soul music covers benefited the children’s charity, Radio Clyde Cash for Kids.

Personal life

Diamond married Christine Bailey (born 1951, Wellington, New Zealand) in 1978. The couple had a daughter, Sara Rosaline Diamond (b. 1978 in Hammersmith and Fulham, London), and a son, Lawrence James Diamond (b. 1984 in Hammersmith and Fulham, London). Lawrence is the keyboardist of the UK indie pop group Citizens! and the former bass player of Official Secrets Act.

In the early 1980s, Diamond contracted hepatitis.

Diamond was a friend of Father Ted star Dermot Morgan and was present at the small dinner party at which Morgan died suddenly in 1998.


Diamond died in his sleep on 8 October 2015, 10 days after his 64th birthday. According to his daughter Sara, the cause of death was a pulmonary oedema.

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Scottish Towns-Cities. (Dumfries.)

There are more than a few British towns that are best viewed in total darkness. Dumfries is one of them, but before its residents fill my pockets with red sandstone and hurl me into the river Nith, let me explain – by way of a trip to its famous camera obscura.

It’s lunchtime on a grey Wednesday in Dumfries, and I’m standing in the small, round, creaky-floored room at the top of a decommissioned windmill. It’s pitch black: I can see precisely nothing. Then the museum attendant (for the windmill is part of the Dumfries Museum) pulls a rope, an aperture opens above us, and Dumfries appears on the drum-like tabletop in the middle of the room.

There’s the red of the sandstone, the green of the grass, the silver of the cars that are snaking across the New Bridge. Birds swoop across the fulminating weir. It’s a projection (entering via a small shutter, light is reflected downwards by a mirror and, passing through a convex lens, casts an image on to the table), but the detail is exquisite and the movement of the people, water and birds has a fluidity that I’ve never seen on a television screen. “We try very hard not to look into people’s houses,” says the attendant hastily.

The camera obscura was built in 1836, a time when Scotland was rosy-cheeked with Enlightenment endeavour. It was funded by local astronomy enthusiasts, and is the oldest continuously operated one in Scotland. This makes it Dumfries’ second-biggest claim to fame – with a tip of the hat to its being named Scotland’s happiest town last October – the first being its association with Robert Burns.

There is so much Burns here, indeed, that lying in a darkened room seems the only appropriate response. Scotland’s national poet lived here from 1788 until his premature death in 1796, pen-pushing at an excise house by day and constructing lyrical Scots nationhood by night. He was doing much more by night, in fact, drinking in pubs that survive to this day and fathering several of his 12 children here. Many of Dumfries’ 50,000-odd inhabitants must be direct descendants, which might help explain the town’s devotion to him.

As we changed the direction of the shutter with gentle pulls of a rope, a wider spread of Dumfries fell upon the tabletop, including the Burns Mausoleum, where even in a churchyard – kirkyard, I mean – full of preposterously ornate red sandstone tombs, Burns’ is the finest. The remains of Burns, along with those of his wife Jean Armour, lie beneath a gravestone that is visible through a glass pane and a wrought iron gate. 

When goggling at the grave earlier, I trod in the footsteps of one John Keats, who wrote a poem about his visit to the tomb. Keats, too, understood the discomfort of visiting a windy graveyard on a wet day in March, writing in the poem that “The short-liv’d, paly summer is but won/ From winter’s ague for one hour’s gleam.”

Fortunately, it’s very easy to pay Burns the respect of visiting his favourite pubs. After leaving the camera obscura, I followed in his footsteps by going to the Globe Inn, a cosy, wood-panelled pub whose stone walls made me invisible to the camera obscura’s wandering eye.

Doonhamers (the people of Dumfries) are such a friendly, unflappable crew that I doubt they mind the idea of appearing on the camera obscura tabletop. Perhaps, in idle moments, they wonder how they look from up there. 

Fortunately, Burns is good for unwitting surveillance as well as the beauty of Scottish life and language: “O, wad some Power the giftie gie us/ To see ourselves as others see us!”.

Six fine reasons to visit Dumfries


The museum

There’s lots of local history besides Burns, including Roman occupation. Find out more at the excellent Dumfries Museum – where you can also find the camera obscura.

The walk

Dumfries was a finalist for the Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood award this year, and while the town as a whole isn’t particularly pretty, its historic riverside area is a good place for a stroll. Try the Burns Trail – more details in the Robert Burns Centre.

The poet

The Robert Burns Centre and the Robert Burns House are good places to learn about Rabbie’s life and work.

The pub

For Rabbie-tinged history, visit the High Street’s Globe Inn. For a modern local favourite, visit the Cavens Arms.

The food

You’ll need a booking, but try Home, the restaurant above the Coach and Horses inn that overlooks the river. Its menu is mostly British and French fare, and the food is easily the best in town.

The mausoleum

It’s in St Michael’s Kirkyard, which is up the hill from the river and would be worth a trip even if Burns had never been buried here.


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