The Black Diamonds were an Australian garage rock and band from Lithgow, New South Wales, who were active under different names from 1959 to 1971. They became one of the most popular groups in their region of South Wales and signed with Festival Records, where they recorded two singles. They have particularly become regarded for the song "I Want, Need, Love You" which appeared on the B-side of their first single. It featured a desperate vocal over a pounding rhythm section, along with Alan Oloman's fast guitar breaks, and became a regional hit. The band toured with several top name acts such as the Easybeats. In 1967, their second single became a hit in the Sydney area. In 1968 the group changed their name to Tymepiece and evolved into a more eclectic and progressive act, releasing a version of the Tokens' "Lion Sleeps Tonight" and an album, Sweet Release, in 1971. They broke up later that year.
The band that eventually became the Black Diamonds was founded in Lithgow, a mining town in New South Wales. In 1959, Alan Stuart Oloman and Allen Michael Keogh, who were both twelve year's old, learned to play guitar from a friend, Brandt Newton, who was a couple of years older. The three started playing together regularly, doing primarily instrumentals. They found a drummer, Johnny Kett, but had no bassist at this point. Alan Oloman's father, Bill Oloman, became the group's manager and provided space at his family house for the band to rehearse. He came up with the name for the band, "Johnny Kett's Black Diamonds", as a reference to the mining industry in their home town and drummer Kett, who at the time was their leader. The group started playing live gigs, and got a Saturday night residency at Scottish Reunion Dance, a local dancehall. In 1963, Brandt Newton departed and Alan Oloman's brother, Neil Oloman joined on guitar, while Allen Keogh switched over to bass, filling out their sound, which now largely consisted of surf instrumentals. With the onslaught of the Beatles and the British Invasion in 1964, they recognised that they would need a lead vocalist, and chose Glen Christopher to fill the role. Glen Bland joined the group on rhythm guitar, allowing Alan Oloman to concentrate on his lead parts. The group's leadership role shifted from drummer Kett to Alan Oloman, whose increasingly virtuosic lead guitar playing was emerging as a key feature in the band's sound. Christopher later departed and Bland took over on lead vocals (and harmonica).
In 1965, Kett departed and was replaced by Colin McAuley a brilliant drummer whose flair complemented Oloman's leads. At this time, the group shortened their name to "the Black Diamonds" and had become the biggest band in the New Mountains area. Record companies eventually started expressing interest. Alan Oloman was working as a pert-time announcer at the local radio station 2LT, where he got to know programming director Bob Jolly, who arranged for the group to record demos in the radio station's broadcasting studio, and sent them to various record labels, such as Festival Records's Pat Aulton, who were particularly impressed with the demo, "See the Way", written by Alan Oloman, and arranged to have the group re-record it for the release of a single. "See the Way" was the A-side, and it was characterised by Alan Oloman's "spacey" sounding guitar parts, which were put through a ape delay to get the effect. Even more striking was the B-Side, for which the group had originally intended to record a cover of a Rolling Stones song. But, when producer Pat Aulton heard the band members practising a riff, he recommended that they build a song around it, which resulted in "I Want, Need, Love You", an intense and groundbreaking slab of hard rock and proto-punk, that featured an overdriven instrumental interlude replete with pounding jungle rhythms and a lightning-fast guitar solo by Alan Oloman. The single was released in November 1966.
Though it failed to break the national charts, it became a huge hit around Lithgow and much of New South Wales. It went to No. 15 at station 2BS in Bathurst. The Black Diamonds, who now had up to thirty original songs in their repertoire as well as covers, became an opening act on tours for big-name acts such as the Easybeats, who were Australia's most popular group, several of whose members have mentioned the Black Diamonds as the best opening band they ever shared the bill with. They appeared on ABC's Be My Guest television programme, where they appeared in two featurette segments showing the band members lip-synching to "See the Way" and "I Want, Need, Love You" while standing on a rocky beach. The also appeared on Saturday Date prgramme. The group encountered difficulties typical of 1960s rock groups. Live shows could be gruelling--at certain gigs the band was expected to play for up to four hours, late into the night, promoters and club owners ripped the band off on several occasions, and once while on tour they got into a scuffle with reactionary hoodlums. According to vocalist Glen Bland:
Their second single was released in March 1967. Pat Aulton selected J. J. Cale's "Outside Looking In" for the A-side, a decision that the band members felt was a mistake. The B-side was the Who-influenced power pop of "Not This Time", which found band more in their element. For "Not This Time" Alan Oloman played a homemade 12-string guitar. The single made the top 30 in Sydney, but failed to break nationally. Later that year, rhythm guitarist Niel Oloman departed and was replaced not with a guitarist but a keyboard player, Brian "Felix" Wilkinson. At the end of the year the band moved their base of operations to Sydney. When they got there, they secured residencies at the Caesar's Palace and Hawaiian Eye discothques. In 1968, bassist Alan Keogh departed and was replaced by Darcy Rosser.
At the urging of Pat Aulton and Festival Records, they changed their name to Tymepiece, and they signed an extended contract to record under the new name. As Tymepiece, they recorded three singles featuring songs such as "Bird in the Tree" and a version of the Tokens' "Lion Sleeps Tonight". In 1971 they released the album, Sweet Release, which featured an eclectic blend of psychedelic, progressive, blues, and country influences. Later that year the band broke up. In 1973, Alan Oloman joined the Executives. In he died of cancer at the age of 61.
In recent years the Black Diamonds' work has come to the attention of garage rock enthusiasts around the world. Songs such as "I Want, Need, Love You", "See the Way" have appeared on various vinyl and CD anthologies. "I Want, Need, Love You" was included on the Down Under Nuggets: Original Australian Artyfacts 1965-1967 compilation issued by Festival Records in conjunction with Warner Bros. Records and Rhino Records. "See the Way" was included on the Obscure 60s Garage, Volume 5: Australian Edition compilation. The Black Diamonds have become recognised as a trailblazing and innovative group. According to music writer Ian McFarlane, "the Black Diamonds will be remembered as one of the most ferocious garage punk outfits Australia ever produced in the 1960s".