Dinky Diamond played drums with Sparks

Dinky Diamond drummer on Sparks albums
Drummer Norman "Dinky" Diamond
Sparks "Kimono My House" Lp
Norman "Dinky" Diamond was recruited as part of Sparks' British band in 1973, after the Maels had arrived in England. Out of the three original members enlisted by Sparks in 1973, Norman "Dinky" Diamond was the only one who was not fired preliminary, as were bassist Martin Gordon and guitarist Adrian Fisher. Norman played drums along with the Maels during three years and will forever be fondly remembered for his outstanding work on "Kimono My House", "Propaganda" and "Indiscreet" - the "Holy Trinity" of Sparks’ past.

Norman Diamond was born December 15, 1952 in Aldershot, in England. Since his childhood days Norman was nicknamed “Dinky” because of his fragile appearance (!). During the '60s Norman played with a rock band during his college years, Sound of Time, then he left the school and worked a time in an electric supplies store while he continued playing in various local outfits.
Norman Diamond was "discovered" by Sparks' manager John Hewlett in a pub where he was playing Sparks cover tunes with The Sky Blue, a quintet from Aldershot. Norman's arrival released Chris Townson from the task of stand-in drummer, and soon Chris went off back to Jook. -

During his years with Sparks, Norman "Dinky" Diamond lived in Hampshire. He was a good-natured middle-man who liked horseback riding and playing golf at the local country club. Musically Norman and bass player Martin Gordon shore an enthusiasm for the bass and drum bits of Yes and they attempted to surreptitiously insert quotations and phrases inspired by their heroes inside Ron Mael's tunes.
Norman "Dinky" Diamond was voted drummer of the year in a poll conducted by Premier Drums in 1975. Sparks' drummer was also a very good dancer and the same year, there were rumours of him releasing an instruction book on dancing titled : "Dinky Diamond's Dance Diagrams", but this was definitely only a rumour... But the real castanets on ”Hasta Manana, Monsieur”, were played by dancing specialist Norman "Dinky" Diamond. -
read more about Kimono sessions...

Soon after "Indiscreet" failed to achieve chart access as significant as the two preceding albums, Sparks dismissed. The Brits didn't know which direction the music was taking, but they all felt it time for Ron & Russell Mael to explore new avenues. The Maels decided to disband Sparks after the tour of USA in 1975. Norman "Dinky" Diamond, guitarist Trevor White and bassist Ian Hampton stayed in Britain as Ron & Russ returned to Los Angeles to form a new band to record "Big Beat" Lp. It was a parting of mutual consent (and amicable) which is why the musicians remain friendly with the Maels.

In 1975, Trevor White, Ian Hampton and Dinky Diamond rehearsed for a week at Island Studios in St. Peters Square London with guitarist Adrian Fisher. Four songs were recorded quickly at the end of the week and probably engineered by "Digger", Richard Digby Smith. "I See the Light" had Trevor, Ian and Dinky sharing lead vocals, "Adrian's Boogie" was a result of what Adrian loved to do and "If it's Love That You Want " and "Shot From A Gun" were two of Trevor's songs featuring himself on vocals. The tape was presented to Island Records at the time but they decided not to pursue any further development of the project.

Dinky Diamond played drums on Sparks albums
Norman "Dinky" Diamond on drums
one of rock music's finest drummer

Five years later, Norman "Dinky" Diamond hooked up with a new band, The Four Squares. The Four Squares were in fact five : guitarist Chuck "Bob Davies" Wagon (who had left The Dickies), Dinky on drums, guitarist Adrian Fisher, Trevor White on bass (!), and John Hewlett on lead vocals. At the time manager John Hewlett, no longer managing artists, wanted to front a band featuring his favourite musicians/friends.

Some songs were recorded in the now defunct Bearsville Studios, Woodstock, Turtle Creek, N.Y. Chuck Wagon died before the recordings were finished and before the band had played "live". The tracks were all John Hewlett/ Bob Davies compositions and some of the rough mixes from the sessions - "The Debt", "I Want Her I Need Her", "That Girl" - surfaced in 2007 and were transferred from cassette by Hewlett's friend singer Ian Kimmet from Jook.

When the Four Squares project failed Dinky Norman Diamond left the music business for good. He kept in touch with his best friend guitarist Trevor White and mailed bassist Martin Gordon and Adrian Fisher occasionally. Martin used to get long messages from Norman on his answering machine and they met once at the BBC. In the 90’s the drummer told Martin he wanted to get some legal action going against Sparks manager John Hewlett.
In 1998, Norman, his girl friend, Jane, and their two cats moved in a comfortable terraced home in Sandhurst, Berkshire. But soon Norman felt powerless against a noisy nextdoor neighbour and there was a gradual change in him. He had complained to the local authorities noise from this local resident who didn't work during the day and played thumping music all through the night. Norman got no sleep and was in despair after he failed to get the council to stop the noise. Other residents had also complained to the local housing association about the "neighbour from hell" but the council had not done anything...

Norman Diamond was a proud person who hated having to ask for help. He was a gentle, musical man and not used to aggression. The Diamond couple made plans to move but, then, on 10th September 10, it all became too much and Norman rang his friend Trevor White that he was going to kill himself because he couldn't cope with the noise any more.
On 10th September 2004 Jane came home found Norman was hanging, dead, from the loft ceiling. Jane had no idea her partner was thinking of killing himself, although Norman had recently left a job he loved and taken one which he hated, working for an internet gardening company. But the drummer was always the most lovely, gentle, kind man and he treated his girlfriend like royalty for all the 21 years they were together.
With Sparks Norman "Dinky" Diamond established himself as one of rock music's finest drummer. Norman is sadly missed by his loving partner Jane, sisters Maureen, Daphne, Margaret and brother David, their families, friends and all sparksfans.

Russell and Ron Mael : "We are very saddened by the news of Dinky Diamond's death. We hold fond memories of working with Dinky and of his contribution to several of our albums during the '70s. Our hearts go out to his family and friends." (Sparks Official Website 09/21/2004)


My name's Brian Robinson, Norman Diamond was playing with my band Shalimar when he joined Sparks. We' d also played together in the "Sound of Time" after Pip MacNaughton left and when that band split up we joined another pro band who I'd worked with previously called "Grapevine".
Dinky phoned me mid-afternoon on the day Shalimar were due to do a gig at Cliftonville. It was the first time he'd ever let me down I was bloody furious ! I forgave him when I realised he had a recording session with Sparks.
The bands we played in together were always going to be stepping stones for Norman, he was ambitious to be playing with more progressive and well-known people. He played in a band called "Sky" (not "Blue Sky") with Bob Bigg - now a guitar tech/salesman at Kingfisher Music in Fleet - who certainly never played Sparks covers !
Dinky lived at 10 Stone Street Aldershot. When his father died I was a Civil Servant and had the delicate and unpleasant job of helping his mum make the various death grant and pension claims. I'm not sure he was ever aware of that.

Dinky and I had lots of good times, my favourite gig was always when we took off in our 6 wheel transit (with aircraft seats of course!) to do a week or two in Cornwall. We would jump out of the van a few times on the way down to kick a football around. Once, when Dinky had taken his shirt off, he fell over and rolled on his back. A few seconds later I was amazed to see the raised outline of individual blades of grass appear all over his back. He was allergic to grass ! I wish I'd photographed it, it was extremely detailed and weird...
Band members at that time were Dinky, Alan Smith, Simon Cohen and myself, Brian Robinson. We had the most amazing roadie who could drive in his sleep !

At the peak of his Sparks success Dinky called me and we met in a pub in Fleet, Hants. He seemed smaller and a bit down. He mentioned that his girlfriend at the time Sue who worked at Island Records had told him that Island Records had cheated Sparks out of several thousand pounds. He also reminded me of a couple of gigs we had done with Shalimar in the north of england which he had also done with Sparks, which he hadn't enjoyed as he could never just wander off like we did as unknowns.
I was shocked to learn of his death and attended his funeral, a sad affair, at the Aldershot Crematorium.

I'm no longer in touch with any of my old musician friends as I moved to the North of England four years ago. I don't have a single photo of my early musical career as they were stolen by an ex-girlfriend.
I play guitar and still play on Thursday nights at a local blues club ; it would be great if any of my old pals read my words and get in touch.

Contact Brian Robinson : brian.robinson620@ntlworld.com

Sparks' second Island album
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SPARKS 1969-1973
the early years of the Maels

Most informations regarding Norman "Dinky" Diamond
were obtained from Martin Gordon's site :

Additional infos from Carl Van Breukelen, Petteri Aro, Madeline Bocaro and Elizabeth Day

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