Music Friday: A Heartbroken Gary Lewis Laments, 'Who Wants to Buy This Diamond Ring?'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you golden oldies with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Gary Lewis & the Playboys perform "This Diamond Ring," a 1965 chart topper about a heartbroken young man desperate to sell a piece of precious jewelry that doesn't shine for him anymore.

In the song, Lewis is stunned when his girlfriend returns her engagement ring and admits she's been untrue. For him, the stone had symbolized something genuine, "like love should be," and the ring reflected dreams that were coming true.

Lewis sings, "Who wants to buy this diamond ring? / She took it off her finger, now it doesn't mean a thing / This diamond ring doesn't shine for me anymore / And this diamond ring doesn't mean what it meant before / So if you've got someone whose love is true / Let it shine for you."

"This Diamond Ring" was released as the group's first single in January of 1965 and quickly ascended to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The popularity of the song helped Gary Lewis & the Playboys to land a high-profile appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show and a touring gig with the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars. By the end of 1965, Gary Lewis was named Cash Box magazine's "Male Vocalist of the Year," beating out nominees Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. The group would go on to score seven Top-10 hits.

Lewis, who is still performing with his band at the age of 71, told songfacts.com that his biggest hit is often misinterpreted.

"A lot of people love 'This Diamond Ring,' but they think it's a getting-together song," he recounted. "They say to me, 'Hey, we got married because of 'This Diamond Ring.' I say, 'Really?' I mean, it's a breakup song."

Despite the success of "This Diamond Ring," songwriters Al Kooper, Bob Brass and Irwin Levine were unhappy with the uptempo arrangement of what was supposed to be an R&B song, claiming Gary Lewis & the Playboys removed the soul and "made a teenage milkshake out of it." The song had been written for The Drifters, who passed on the opportunity to record it.

Quick trivia: Gary Lewis is the son of the comedian Jerry Lewis, who passed away in August at the age of 91.

Please check out the video of Gary Lewis & the Playboys performing "This Diamond Ring." The clip is introduced by TV's Batman, Adam West, who also died this year at the age of 88. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"This Diamond Ring"
Written by Al Kooper, Bob Brass and Irwin Levine. Performed by Gary Lewis & the Playboys.

Who wants to buy this diamond ring?
She took it off her finger, now it doesn't mean a thing
This diamond ring doesn't shine for me anymore
And this diamond ring doesn't mean what it meant before
So if you've got someone whose love is true
Let it shine for you

This stone is genuine like love should be
And if your baby's truer than my baby was to me
This diamond ring can mean something beautiful
And this diamond ring can mean dreams that are coming true
And then your heart won't have to break like mine did
If there's love behind it

This diamond ring can mean something beautiful
And this diamond ring can mean dreams that are coming true
And then your heart won't have to break like mine did
If there's love behind it

This diamond ring doesn't shine for me anymore
And this diamond ring doesn't mean what it meant before
So then your heart won't have to break like mine did
If there's love behind it

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Howard Cohen