The Diplomats were a trio from Washington, D.C., whose early origins goes back to 1958 and a quintet named Tiny Tim & the Hits. Formed by William Collier, Thomas Price, Lionel Brown, Orlester Smith, and Howard “Timothy” Wilson, the group had a pair of singles on Roulette: “Wedding Bells” and “Golden Moments.”
Nearly five years passed before Collier resurfaced with Samuel Culley and Ervan Waters as the Diplomats on Arock Records. The tight-harmony trio remake of “Unchained Melody” was the first single, and they got their foot halfway through the door with their second single, “Here’s a Heart” (October 1963). A fourth Arock single, however, took them back to square one. On to Wand Records in 1965 for two singles that also failed to go, before a one-off on Minit Records in 1966, “Honest to Goodness.” Whether for contractual reasons or simply change, the trio’s next single, “Right or Wrong,” (on Fat Back), was credited to the Four Puzzles (Thomas Price from the Tiny Tim & the Hitmaker’s days had come onboard). A second Fat Back recording, “My Sweet Baby,” was released in February 1968 and credited simply to Puzzles after Collier left.
Constantly changing names, the trio’s first (of six) Dynamo singles, “Hard to Get,” was credited to Sam, Erv & Tom. For the next five singles, including Herb Rooney’s (L.A. Reid’s father) “I Can Give You Love,” they were the Diplomats again. It made no difference what they called themselves, as nothing was clicking on a national level. During their Dynamo stay, they accompanied (uncredited) Tony Drake on their singers Musicor and 3rd World Records’ recordings.
In 1973, with George Kerr handling the productions, the Diplomats became the Skull Snaps who many think were a funk band. Newcomer George Bragg joined Culley and Waters for their recordings on Lloyd Price’s GSF label. GSF issued four singles and a much sought-after album. Another Skull Snaps’ recording on Grill Records, “Ain’t That Lovin’ You,” is scarcer than the GSF tracks. After one last 45 (“Come Back”) appeared on two labels, New Moon and Right On, they disappeared. (Or they recorded under another name and nobody has caught on yet.)