163. The Bachelors – Diane (1964)

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And then, in the midst of the new pop sound, came Diane by the Bachelors. This trio from Dublin describe themselves as ‘the original Irish boy band’, and they might have a point, for the sound they make, placed next to Needles and Pins, is as dull and backward-looking as a Westlife anthem next to some late 90s or early 00s dance music.

The Bachelors were Con and Dec Cluskey and John Stokes. They had formed in 1957 as the Harmonichords, and played classically-styled instrumental harmonica pieces. They became known to the public following appearances on Hughie Green’s original Opportunity Knocks on Radio Luxembourg and a St Patrick’s Day Special edition of The Ed Sullivan Show in 1959. The following year Dick Rowe, then A&R man at Decca Records, suggested they changed their name to the Bachelors because it was the sort of boy a girl likes. The Bachelors’ brand of pop had much more in common with the kind of songs that were charting at the inception of the charts – rock’n’roll was anathema to them, let alone Merseybeat. Diane dates back to 1927, and was originally written by Ernö Rapée and Lew Pollack as the theme to the silent film Seventh Heaven.

I’ve listened to this song three times now, and I confess, I’m struggling to think of anything whatsoever to say about it, other than just how dated it is compared to the number 1s of late. It’s a big step backwards. I’m assuming the older generation were to blame here, and probably thought the trio looked like nice boys that could sing a tune from their past without all that screaming and noisy electric guitars and drums bashing away. Perhaps young girls too, who were a bit too innocent for groups like the Dave Clark Five? Whoever the market was, it’s certainly not me. Admittedly I’m not the world’s biggest easy listening fan, but I’ve enjoyed and admired many of the genre’s number 1s so far. This is one of the least memorable number 1s I’ve heard.

Nonetheless, the Bachelors had a period of worldwide fame, scoring hits all over the world with covers including I Believe and Marie. They eventually showed some willing to move with the times – their last UK hit was a version of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, reaching number three in 1966. Despite managing to stay popular throughout the rapid musical taste changes of the 60s, the start of the 70s saw film, TV and live appearances all dry up. In 1984 they split following an argument between the Cluskey brothers and Stokes, with the Cluskeys becoming the New Bachelors. However, Stokes also started appearing under that name and things got very messy. These days you’ll find websites for Con & Dec the Bachelors, and the Bachelors with John Stokes, so you could find yourself twice as likely to be bored to tears.

Written by: Ernö Rapée & Lew Pollack

Producers: Shel Talmy & Mike Stone

Weeks at number 1: 1 (20-26 February)

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