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band nameThe Blue Diamonds
who's in the picture
Left to right clockwise: Neil Burman, bass; Iain Eggeling, rhythm guitar and lead vocals; David Jackson, lead guitar; John Woolley, drums.
where was the band based
Surrey / South London (Cheam, Epsom, Wimbledon), UK.
Shadows, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Zombies
Most 60’s bands comprised three musicians and a drummer. The Blue Diamonds had three musicians and a guy who’d purchased a bass guitar because it had only four strings...
David Jackson (lead guitar) and John Woolley (percussion) teamed up as eleven-year-olds doing covers of anything by The Shadows. The two boys separated when they went to secondary school where John persuaded a fellow Kings College Wimbledon student Iain Eggeling (rhythm guitar and lead vocals) to join the fledgling band in October 1963. David then asked a boy from his school, Epsom College, to complete the band in April 1964. I added bass guitar and Van Gogh’s ear for music.
We underwent a name change from The Avengers to The Blue Diamonds and wore uniforms of black cardigans with silver fronts, thin blue ties, white shirts and grey school trousers. Although we didn’t look exactly like four Val Doonicans, we came dangerously close. We played at dances, clubs and private parties for two years including a gig attended by the French Ambassador. Our musical style became known as The Cheam Sound – a style occasionally mentioned in the same sentence as The Mersey Sound, The Motown Sound and The West Coast Sound, but not all that occasionally. We refused to perform easy listening music. Sometimes the audience found it easier not listening and left early.
The Blue Diamonds recorded an EP of three covers and an original instrumental in January 1965, selling several copies to each other. The band broke up just over a year later. Most blamed Yoko, but there were rumours about drug taking. Someone had seen Iain sucking on a cough lozenge prior to one of their final gigs, although David denied supplying it. No hotel rooms were trashed, but John did leave his bedroom in a mess once, deciding at the last minute to clean it up before his mother came home.
Despite their rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, the four survived (although David and Iain now wear obvious hairpieces) and met up in London on March 10th 2008 for the first time in 42 years. In the interim we’d all taken the advice of our parents to get a haircut and a real job, with the exception of John who’d played with Geno Washington’s Ram Jam Band and Bram Stoker for a few years after graduating from university. John and I took the haircut advice too literally.
In March 2008 we reunited. I flew in from Perth and the other three arrived by train at concessional fare rates. Over some anti-cholesterol tablets and a few glasses of red, it was decided that being part of The Blue Diamonds in the 60’s was the most fun any of us had experienced whilst wearing cardigans. So, why not have another crack? (See picture 4)
Any resemblance to the original artists is purely coincidental. © Nic Kersov, aka Neil Burman.
brushes with fame
After leaving University, John played with Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band as well as Bram Stoker. Iain still plays with Mid Life Crisis and is involved with both amateur dramatics and musicals. David Jackson has played in various bands and has a large collection of vintage guitars. Early exploits of the band appear in the autobiography "Blue Suede Slippers" (published 2007) and a more complete history of the band including their 2008 reunion is contained in "Still Waiting For The Fat Lady" a book released in Oz in November 2008. Both books written by Neil Burman
where are they now
David Jackson became a lawyer and worked in the banking industry in Hong Kong. He now runs a financial consultancy in London.
John Woolley is Managing Director of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.
Iain Eggeling is a doctor in general medical practice in Farnborough, Hampshire.
I am a dentist in general practice in Perth, Western Australia