Full Name:   Diane Marie Jacobs     Born:   August 19th, 1943
Hometown:   Waimate
School:    Cashmere High School
Instruments Played:   Vocalist
Career Began:   1960 with Bobby Davis and The Dazzlers
Groups:   The Saints
Groups:   The Playboys
Recording Label:   Viking
First Single:   "Don't You Know Yokomo"b/w "Reet Petite"
Worked with:   Max Merritt and The Meteors
TV Shows:   Bandstand, Saturday Date, The Tonight Show
Toured with:   PJ Proby, Millie Small
Awards:   NEBOA Entertainer of the Year 1965


Dinah Lee was probably the most significant Auckland based singer to burst onto the local scene and is the first female Kiwi artist to top the Australian charts.  Dinah was just another pop singer until she was introduced to a fashion model from England who transformed her into a mod, which was all the rage in London.  People then began to take notice of this ball of energy and her first single release "Don't You Know Yockomo", was soon hit-bound with Dinah given the title, "Queen Of The Mods".  1964 saw Yockomo followed onto the charts by two more winners, "Reet Petite" and "Do The Bluebeat" (The Jamaican Ska), followed by an EP and her first album, Introducing Dinah Lee. 1965 provided more hits, success in Australia, and an award for Entertainer Of The Year, followed by a second album, The Mod World Of Dinah Lee.  Born Diane Jacobs, on the 19th of August 1943 in Waimate, she started her singing career at local dances and made her professional debut in 1960 singing at a dance in Christchurch with Bobby Davis and the Dazzlers.  She began singing regularly with them in a local coffee lounge.  Diane soon met up with Phil Garland, a member of the Saints band and started singing with them.  When the Saints came to an end, Phil Garland formed the Playboys and Diane joined them singing in the new band.  In 1962, the Playboys were invited by Max Merritt to play at the Top 20 Club to cover for his band while on tour.  Diane and the Playboys went to Auckland and played 7 nights a week for the month.

Dinah Lee
Dinah Lee as she is today, and Dinah Lee in concert.

When the Playboys returned to Christchurch, Diane went back with them and sang with the Downbeats.  She wanted to return to the life in Auckland but when she went back, she found it hard to make a living singing.  She managed to get spots singing with a number of established groups such as Max Merritt and the Meteors and Ray Columbus and the Invaders.  In February 1964, she joined the "Startime Spectacular" tour of the North Island with stars Bill and Boyd and Max Merritt and the Meteors who had recommended her for the show.  Diane's new "mod" look, short straight hair, white make-up, large eyes and pale lipstick, was dramatic and this made an immediate impact along with her unique voice and singing style.  She signed up with an agent, Haddleton, who had her sign a management contract that took 25% of all her earnings for the next five years.  He had total control over her income and the direction of her career.  Diane now had a regular spot at the Top 20 Club where Ron Dalton, from Viking Records, saw her perform.  After her audition, a recording contract was signed with Viking Records.

Dinah Lee
Dinah Lee performing at ROCKONZ 2007

Viking were not entirely happy with Diane's family name Jacobs, and so came up with the professional name for her of "Dinah Lee".  Her first two records, which were released in 1964 were "Don't You Know Yockomo" and "Reet Petite".  Max Merritt and the Meteors were the session musicians.  Within two weeks the single was in the top 40 and before long had peaked in the top 20.  It generated a lot of interest from the media and suddenly Dinah was "Queen of the Mods".  Britain was in the throes of the "Mods" and "Rockers" craze at this time.  The single was also released in Australia by HMV and quickly reached a place in the top 10 on many of the regional charts.  A second record was released in September. "Reet Petite"/"Yea Yea We Love Them All" was another hit.  The third release in October 1964, was the one that truly established her reputation.  "Do The Blue Beat"/"Kansas City" was a huge hit.  HMV decided to release "Reet Petite"/"Do The Blue Beat" which was another huge success.  1964 was Dinah's best year and she was constantly on tour with shows such as the "Lou and Simon Spectacular", the "Jimmie Rodgers Show" with the Crystals and Terry Stafford.  Her first international tour through Australia was "Starlift '64", which included Del Shannon, The Searchers, Peter and Gordon, and Eden Kane.  Dinah gained the best reviews of the night.  Dinah's song "Do The Blue Beat" hit the top of the charts soon after and Johnny O'Keefe invited Dinah to sing on his "Sing Sing Sing" show.  She rushed to Australia, recorded the show and flew back to meet commitments in Auckland.  Viking issued her fourth single, "Who Stole The Sugar"/"Rock Around The Clock" in November 1964.  In total, during that time, she had sold over 100,000 records.  In recent years Dinah has undertaken very successful tours of the east coast of Australia as part of "Max Merritt and the Meteors with Dinah Lee" and was part of a reunion concert of the 1970's stars including Ray Columbus, which had sold - out audiences of 10's of thousands.  This March, Dinah is touring with Max and the Meteors in the North Island before coming back to Christchurch to take part in the ROCKONZ Rock and Roll Festival and the ROCKONZ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inauguration.

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