Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

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 (William Powers)

Milestone 2003

No. 18    October 24, 1960



“Songs came to me in dreams.  And it all feels like that, now.  Lifetime ago, or so,” said William

Ralph Powers, the Paradons’ tunesmith in an exclusive interview.  “It was 1958.  Just Bill Myers

and myself at first; sittin’ on a porch we thought up the name.  He and I would run around

together; thinking that we were Don Juans anyway–and Chuck Weldon and West Tyler ran

around together–so we figured we’d be a pair-of-dons-­ Paradons.


Now, Bill lived across the street; and we’d done some boys chorus stuff in school, sang in

bathrooms, garages; like the normal doo-wop groups.  By ’59, we were all at Bakersfield High and

things got serious.  We did school dances, local clubs…did the Pike in Long Beach with WINK

MARTINDALE–it’s torn down, now–and the  ‘Cousin Herb’ TV show, a country and western

program.  We sometimes played gigs and BUCK OWENS would be there.  We’re still in touch,

though I haven’t seen him in years since he got sick.  We sang country, pop, rhythm & blues;



Milestone Records was set up by “the Delta Ballader,” Werly “Levi” Fairburn–to insiders,  Jack

Hammer–a one-time rockabilly contender  from Folsom, Louisiana,   Madelon  Baker– producer

of “the Skippy Hollywood Theatre” and a model groomed by General Mills in 1956 to be the next

Betty Crocker– and possibly a few silent partners.  Neither  one of them wound up fulfilling those

particular career dreams, but they did record   some interesting vocal groups; such as THE BLUE

JAYS, ROCHELL & THE CANDLES, and the Paradons.  Fairburn’s initial plan had been to record  C

& W tunes  when he happened onto Powers’ group.


“Madelon and her folks owned the Big M, a publishing company, and the Audio Arts Recording

Studio, on Melrose near Western, in Hollywood.  Werly heard us at some club and he was quite

impressed.” On January 23, 1960, Fairburn led Powers (b. June 10, 1942 ) alternated baritone,

bass, 1st and 2nd tenor), Bill Myers (bass), Charles “Chuck” Weldon (1st and 2nd tenor),and West

Tyler (alternated vocal roles) into Madelon and  Jackson Baker’s recording studio.  That evening

they dashed off “I Want Love”–the hit disk’s  “B”-side–and possibly seven others, including

“Diamonds And  Pearls,” a tune that not all members wanted to set to tape.


“No one wanted to record that tune,” said Powers.   “I had to argue with everyone. No one would

listen to me.  I was adament, ‘This is the song. ‘Round and round, we went; until they said,

‘Alright, let’s do it.’


“The song is now a classic–but where’s my money. It’s still selling to this day. Five groups covered

it, including THE TURBANS, but we had the hit…”


“Diamonds And Pearls” had all the  secret ingredients necessary to become a national top 40 hit,

and it sparkles to this day.  In demand, the Paradons appeared on “American Bandstand,” played

the Apollo alongside Fats Domino, toured with the Five Satins and JOHNNY OTIS, and knocked

’em out at the Howard Theatre in Washington D.C. and the Palladium m L.A. @”It felt wonderful.

The ride of my life. The limos. Wining and dining…but soon   we found out–our agent was shady,

contracts were fuzzy… These guys were making so much money and they did not want us to get

any of it.”


Disputes arose–the wrong name appeared as writer  of “Diamonds And Pearls,” bickering set in as

to what to release next and who’s to sing what part and how; and most notably, very little money

trickled down to the boys.


“Bells Ring” was issued–months late. Without the groups consent, the  Paradons were transfered

to Warner  Brothers for one 45, “Take All Of Me”; followed after the groups break-up by “I Had A

Dream,” on Milestone.


Unfortunately, for Powers and group, none of these all to few disks would   make the  listings. Late

in 1960, Powers left the group.


Bill became  Little Richard’s road manager and worked for transertual sensation Christine

Jorgensen. Bill Myers died in West sold cars and worked the clubs as an R&B singer. West Tyler

died in 1983. He was shot to death in a nightclub dispute.  Chuck became an actor in TV and film;

appearing in episodes of  “Police  Story,”   AIell   Haley’s noted series   “Roots” and  off-Broadway



William  Powers drifted into the  culinary  arts,   becoming a noted chef and operator of his own

restaurant, A Sure Thing Barbecue, in Long Beach.  William has also produced TV commercials,

anchored a cable TV program and ran his own auto detail shop.  Currently he operates Diamonds

and Pearls Publishing in Fair Oaks, California.


“I never got the windfall from my creation,” said Powers.”They got their cars, had parties, and they

hid the money from us. I still haven’t got my money, but I’m going to, thought.”


Madelon  Baker  went on to form the Audio Arts label and the discovery of  the lncredibles and

songwriting legend Jimmy Webb.