Diamond Head are an English heavy metal band formed in 1976 in Stourbridge, England. The band was part of the new wave of British heavy metal movement and is acknowledged by thrash metal bands such as Metallica and Megadeth as an important early influence.
Brian Tatler formed the band with Duncan Scott while both still at school in June 1976. They found singer Sean Harris, who was in the same year, and went through three bass players before settling on Collin Kimberley in 1978. The band recorded two self-financed demo tapes in 1979. They were recorded within six hours on a four-track, one of which was sent to Geoff Barton at Sounds. The timing was perfect with the emergence of the new wave of British heavy metal. In 1979/80, Diamond Head were managed by budding local managers Dave Morris and Ian Frazier. Dave put some money into the band and tried to get the band a record deal; Ian took to driving the band around the UK when on tour. Sean Harris’s mother (Linda Harris) persuaded her boss and boyfriend (Reg Fellows) to come and see the band with a view to investing in them. Diamond Head’s demos and live reputation gained enough attention for the band to get two support dates with AC/DC and one with Iron Maiden at The Lyceum, London. Although several record companies expressed interest in signing the band and Dave and Ian secured a couple of offers, none were deemed worthy by Reg and Linda, who were now beginning to advise Sean as he still lived at home with his mother in a house paid for by Reg.
A difference of opinions about how to manage Diamond Head followed, which eventually led to Dave Morris and Ian Frazier quitting their role as manager, and the job fell solely to Reg and Linda. Apparently, Reg and Linda turned down an offer from Foreigner’s manager Bud Prager to manage the band in the US, claiming they did not need any help over there. Thus while other new waves of British heavy metal bands were signed to major labels and headlining their own tours, Diamond Head remained independent. Guitarist Brian Tatler thinks that Reg and Linda had unrealistic expectations about the kind of record deal the band should sign, and when no deal lived up to this, Reg decided that the band should record an album quickly and cheaply at a local 24 track studio where they had recorded their first single “Shoot Out the Lights“; no money exchanged hands, and the studio owner Muff Murfin – in return for a weeks studio time – took 50 percent of the bands publishing for fifteen years. It is believed that tapes were passed onto various labels, but when the debut album, Lightning to the Nations, failed to secure a record deal, management decided that they would release 1000 copies of the album on an independent label (also owned by Muff Murfin) called Happy Face Records.
The album was packaged in a plain sleeve with no title or track listings, and 250 copies were signed by each band member. The management thought that it should be perceived as a ‘demo’ album, so no fancy sleeve was required, making it very cheap to produce. The first 1000 copies were pressed and made available at concerts and via mail-order for £3.50. The only mail-order advertisement appeared in Sounds and ran for six weeks. The band’s management did not pay for the advertisement and ended up being sued.
The original stereo master tapes were lost after they were sent to the German record company, Woolfe Records, who released a vinyl version of the album with a new sleeve. The tapes were not returned until they were eventually tracked down by Lars Ulrich and Phonogram Germany for inclusion on the 1990 compilation album New Wave of British Heavy Metal ’79 Revisited.
In 1980, Pete Winkelman from Wolverhampton got involved and tried to sign Diamond Head to his new label, Media Records. Pete had been a record plugger and knew a lot about the music business. He advised the band to change management and leave Reg and Linda behind, but because of Sean’s loyalty to his mother, this advice fell on deaf ears. In the end, Diamond Head only agreed to make one single for Pete, a re-recorded version of “Sweet & Innocent” b/w “Streets of Gold”, which came out around October 1980.
In January 1981, Diamond Head successfully opened for April Wine on their UK tour. An ambitious UK tour was planned for the summer by Reg and Linda as a way of being perceived as being more popular than they actually were. An EP called Diamond Lights was recorded quickly to help pay towards the expenses. Reg hired a sleeper coach for band and crew, an articulated lorry filled with hired PA and Lights. Reg also hired the Wolverhampton chapter of Hell’s Angels to perform security duties on the whole tour. Reg bypassed promoters and booked the venues with a local agent to avoid paying a percentage, but with very little promotion for the tour, it lost money.
The only A&R man who was determined to sign the band was Charlie Eyre, who quit his job at A&M and joined MCA in order to sign Diamond Head and Musical Youth. Discussions went on for around six months until the band finally inked a five-album deal on 1 January 1982.
First on the agenda was to record and release the Four Cuts EP, which contained two early era songs, “Shoot Out the Lights” and “Dead Reckoning”, and the band did a whistle-stop UK tour of the clubs to promote it. A link-up with agent Neil Warnock at The Agency secured Diamond Head a Friday night slot on the Reading festival bill in 1982, albeit as late and unadvertised replacements for Manowar. Their set was recorded by the BBC and later released in 1992 through Raw Fruit Records as the Friday Rock Show Sessions.
Their first MCA album, Borrowed Time, featured a lavish Rodney Matthews-illustrated gatefold sleeve based on the album’s Elric theme and was the most expensive sleeve commissioned by MCA at the time. The album was somewhat successful commercially, climbing to No 24 in the UK album charts. The band were able to perform a full-scale UK tour at premier venues such as London’s Hammersmith Odeon.
To support the album, Diamond Head’s released their sixth single, “In the Heat of the Night”, backed with live versions of “Play It Loud” and “Sweet and Innocent” recorded at the Zig-Zag club, and an interview with DJ Tommy Vance (although the latter was not available on the 12″).
Once the two-week UK tour was over, Sean and Brian were told to start writing the next album. The band tried a more experimental sounding follow-up to Borrowed Time, tentatively titled Making Music which was re-named Canterbury in 1983. It was Diamond Head’s “Difficult third album”.[by whom?] Using top engineer Mike Shipley at a very expensive London studio called Battery in Willesden put immense pressure on the band. Duncan struggled to adapt to this new level of scrutiny and was fired after completing just six drum tracks in three weeks. Then once all the bass parts had been recorded to Mike’s exacting standards, Colin quit Diamond Head. Colin sold all his gear and never played bass again. The album now fell to Sean and Brian to finish causing Sean to almost have a nervous breakdown. The initial success of the album was stalled as the first 20,000 copies suffered vinyl pressing problems, causing the LP to jump. It made number 32 in the charts (less than Borrowed Time), and it was noted that the album cost more to make but sold less. Diamond Head were invited to open that years Monsters of Rock festival and, for the first time, toured Europe as special guests of Black Sabbath. On 1 January 1984, MCA did not pick up the option for a third album.
1984 to 2000
In early 1984, Diamond Head did an 18-date UK tour which lost money. Brian and Sean continued to write together, and in October/November, Diamond Head re-convened in a purpose-built studio in Lye, West Midlands, to record album number 4. The album was never finished, and when Reg and Linda failed to secure a new record deal, the band fell apart in early 1985. Brian took over the running of the studio called RPK while Sean signed a solo deal with Pete Wineklman’s new label I Major Records. This culminated in Sean and Robin George making a very expensive album together under the name Notorious. In 1990, Pete Winkelman encouraged Sean to make another Diamond Head record and so put Sean and Brian back in touch after a long break. The band did two UK tours, and eventually, Death and Progress was released in June 1993, featuring guest contributions by Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. Behind the scenes, all was not well, and the reunion was short lived as they were on the verge of splitting up as soon as the record was released. The last gig Diamond played was at Milton Keynes Bowl opening for Metallica. Towards the end of 1992, Sean grew dissatisfied with the album and Brian and wanted to move on. Pete Winkelman tried to broker a deal with RCA records for a ‘new’ band that would feature Sean, Karl Wilcox, Pete & Danny Vuckovic. They performed one gig in Northampton under the name Magnetic AKA, but a deal failed to materialize, and it all fell apart.
In 2000 Sean and Brian reunited to perform some acoustic, un-plugged type gigs in the UK. They reworked the old songs and began recording a 4 track acoustic EP, although this ended up taking two years, and by the time it came out on the bands own label, the acoustic phase was over. Sean and Brian accepted an offer to play the Metal Meltdown festival in New Jersey on 5 April 2002 (Diamond Head’s first US show). An electric band was put together, and a 14 date UK tour was booked for August 2002. A new Diamond Head album was planned, and Mad Hat Studio in Wolverhampton was booked along with producer Andy Scarth. About halfway through the recording, Sean announced that he wanted to change the name of the band to ‘Host’. This didn’t go down well with everyone, and when in 2003 Sean failed to get a deal for the album (which had cost around £16,000 of Sean and Brian’s money to make), things went quiet. Later that year, Diamond Head and Sean Harris finally went their separate ways.
Nick Tart era
Nick Tart (from Cannock) was asked to join Diamond Head in 2004. The band’s next album, All Will Be Revealed, was released in 2005. To promote this album, they completed a 22 date European tour with Megadeth. Brian Tatler commented that this was one of the best experiences of his life, and he regained his enjoyment for playing live with the band again. Diamond Head headlined a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the NWOBHM at the London Astoria, supported by Witchfynde, Bronz, Praying Mantis, and Jaguar. This concert was later released as a live CD titled It’s Electric and also the band’s first DVD, To the Devil His Due, in 2006. The band’s rhythm guitarist Adrian Mills left the band and was replaced with Andy ‘Abbz’ Abberley, previously in Cannock band Chase with drummer Karl Wilcox. In 2007 Diamond Head released What’s in Your Head? produced by Dave (Shirt) Nichols. in 2008, Nick announced that he and his family were going to emigrate to Brisbane. The band continued to tour but now has the extra expense of flying the singer backward and forwards from Australia. Diamond Head toured the US (twice) plus Japan and Europe, including two dates opening for the Big 4. Nick’s last show with Diamond Head was 4 October 2013.
Rasmus Bom Andersen era (2014–present)
After recruiting new vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen (a Danish-born singer living in London) in 2014, Diamond Head toured the UK and began work on their self-titled album Diamond Head, released in 2016. The band took part in the 70000 Tons of Metal cruise around the Caribbean and toured the US and Europe. Work began on their eighth studio album, The Coffin Train, in mid-2016, and it was released in May 2019. By this time, Diamond Head had signed to Silver Lining Records and is now managed by Siren Management. The album entered the UK Rock & Metal Albums Chart at number 5, ten places higher than the band’s self-titled album.
|Colin Kimberley||Bass (1976-1983)|
|Duncan Scott||Drums (1976-1983)|
|Sean Harris||Vocals (1976-1985, 1991-1994, 2000-2004)|
|See also: ex-Notorious|
|Merv Goldsworthy||Bass (1983-1985)|
|See also: ex-Streetfighter, FM, ex-Oxym, ex-Samson|
|Robbie France||Drums (1983-1985)|
|(R.I.P. 2012) See also: ex-Alphaville, ex-Big Red, ex-Pleasure, ex-Skunk Anansie, ex-The Gab, ex-UFO, ex-Wishbone Ash|
|Josh Phillips-Gorse||Keyboards (1983-1985)|
|Eddie “Chaos” Moohan||Bass (1991-1993, 2002-2016)|
|See also: Pauline Black, Tender Virtues, Trevor Burton|
|Pete Vuckovic||Bass (1993-1994)|
|See also: ex-3 Colours Red|
|Floyd Brennan||Guitars (2000-2003)|
|Adrian Mills||Guitars (2004-2005)|
|Nick Tart||Vocals (2004-2014)|
|See also: ex-Alabama Bombshell, ex-Life, ex-Notorious, ex-The Outcasts|