Ted Kowalski, a member of Canadian quartet The Diamonds, who had a string of hits in the late 1950s, has died. He was 79.

Kowalski, who had been living in Whitby, Ont., died of heart disease on Aug. 8.

Kowalski was the original tenor with The Diamonds, an all-white quartet that did cover versions of many R&B hits created by black artists.

Formed in Toronto in 1953, the group was fronted by Dave Somerville and also included Phil Leavitt and Bill Reed.

Kowalski spent five years with The Diamonds and achieved gold records with singles such as Little Darlin', Silhouettes and original hit The Stroll.

They rode the pop charts with covers of Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Church Bells May Ring and Words of Love, which streamed royalties to the song's writer, Buddy Holly.

In an October 2009 interview with a Whitby newspaper, Kowalski recalled rubbing shoulders with Elvis Presley, Gene Kelly and Holly as the group toured the U.S.

In 1958, Kowalski left the group to get an engineering degree at University of Toronto. The group continued with new members, but by 1961, they no longer were pop sensations and moved onto the nightclub circuit.

Kowalski didn't leave music altogether. He sang with big band Tom Demores Orchestra and was a featured soloist with an ensemble called The Generations. More recently, he sang with the Whitby Seniors' Centre Jubilee Choir.

Kowalski and other original members of The Diamonds received the Juno Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984. They were also inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Doo-Wop Hall of Fame.

Kowalski is survived by wife Valare Bromley and children Marianne and John Kowalski.