The Scottish singer Jim Diamond, best remembered for his 1984 chart-topper I Should Have Known Better, has died at the age of 64.
He was born in Glasgow in 1951, not 1953 as the BBC and Wikipedia advertise, is a good example of a journeyman musician who eventually breaks through. He had started his professional playing guitar and singing in a Glasgow band, Jade, and then performing around Europe in a soul and blues band, Gully Foyle. He formed Bandit and although they recorded melodic singles for Arista in the late-Seventies, they had little success as punk had become the order of the day. Jim moved to Alexis Korner’s blues band and then formed Slick Diamond with Earl Slick, who had played on David Bowie’s Young Americans. Jim and the French composer, Michel Legrand, wrote Lady Oscar for Merry Clayton and Jim also produced Zoot Money’s album, Mr. Money.
In 1978, Jim married a New Zealander called Christine Bailey and they had two children, a daughter, Sara Rosaline Diamond and a son Lawrence James Diamond.
In 1981 Jim Diamond teamed up with the keyboard player, Tony Hymas, and the drummer, Simon Phillips, to form the synth-based PhD. They had a Top 10 with I Won’t Let You Down as well as a European hit with I Didn’t Know, which featured Jeff Beck, but they never played live. In 1984 Jim contracted hepatitis and so the band broke up.
Later the same year, Jim was back and had signed a solo career with A&M records and instantly landed the number one I Should Have Known Better which was co-written by Graham Lyle of Gallagher & Lyle and was the first number one for Rondor Music. Graham recalls, “We knew it was good and very commercial. We also thought it could buried as it wasn’t danceable, it was slow, it was sentimental, and none of those things were commercial at the time. Jim did a great job, here is a man who knows how to communicate a lyric.” Jim’s follow-ups, I Sleep Alone At Night and Remember I Love You, made little impact, but in 1986 he was back with the theme song for the crime series, Boon, starring Michael Elphick, Hi Ho Silver. He also featured on two charity number ones, firstly in 1985 as part of the ensemble, The Crowd who recorded You’ll Never Walk Alone which raised money for the Bradford City stadium fire and two years later for Ferry Aid which raised money for the families of the passengers who died on the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry in Zeebrugge.
In the early 2000s Jim teamed up with Chris Davis, who had been a session saxophonist for M People and initially traded as Blue Shoes but then billed as the far more straight forward Jim Diamond and Snake Davis.
By 2005 Jim was back solo and released an album called Souled and Healed, but largely went unnoticed. Six years later be released an album of soul covers versions called City of Soul for charity with all proceeds going to the children’s charity Cash For Kids run by his local radio station, Radio Clyde. The album also featured former Wet Wet Wet drummer Tommy Cunningham and former Hue & Cry singer Greg Kane.
Jim was a very magnanimous man because when he topped the chart at the beginning of December 1984, he knew the following week that Bob Geldof was releasing the Band aid single and said, “I’m delighted to be at number one, but next week I don’t want people to buy my record. I want them to buy Band Aid instead.”