Diamond Studs
The Life of Jesse James
"The Younger Gang" (Bill Hicks, Jim Watson, and Tommy Thompson)
Diamond Studs: The Life of Jesse James opened at the Ranch House, Chapel Hill, September, 1974.  Our Ramblers collaborated with a country/folk group, the Southern States Fidelity Choir (Jim Wann, Bland Simpson, John Foley, Mike Sheehan, and Jan Davidson), who shared the Cat's Cradle venue with the Red Clay Ramblers. The play, written  by Wann, Simpson, and John Haber, the director, was so well received that it attracted the attention of off-Broadway New York backers.  In December the whole show moved to New York! 

Studs rehearsed for the month of December, shooting for a New Year's Eve opening.  The show tightened over the grumbles of the cast about lines and scenes biting the dust at the hands of these cruel New York professionals.  Pat Birch, who choreographed Grease, blocked out the show.  The result on New Year’s Eve: "Yes, yes, a thousand times yes,"  wrote Clive Barnes, New York Times, "…the real, the authentic America." 

Studs ran to sold out houses, 8 shows a week.  The show opened on January 14, 1975, and closed on August 3, 1975, after 232 performances.  The fifth Blur was found in the cast when Jack Herrick took over a role in the show. 

(all photographs by Laura W. Pettibone)
The cast of Diamond Studs in front of the theater during rehearsals one very cold and windy December day in 1974.
The full text of the Clive Barnes/New York Times Review with clipping
Newsweek review by Jack Kroll
The Saturday Review
Diamond Studs recordings from the original cast and also Bland Simpson, Jim Wann, and friends
At the beginning of the run, cast members speculate on their futures to Betty Hodges, Herald
Tommy and Bill interviewed at the end of  Diamond Studs' NY run by Mary Burch, The Raleigh Times
"Will Success Spoil Homefolks?" by Robert Donnan, Chapel Hill News
New York Magazine clipping with picture
Miami Herald article by Nancy Beth Jackson preceding Studs' run at the Coconut Grove Theater--lots of background on developing the show
Reminiscences from Perry Young and Kerry Blech in NYC with Studs
Blurred Time by Bill Hicks
Color photos of the cast of Diamond Studs
More stills involving Red Clay Ramblers
Even more stills involving the Red Clay Ramblers and found online in 2013
Whole page of Diamond Studs posters and other souvenirs
Playbill from the original Ranch House production
Playbill from the New York show and Studs cash
Playbill for the triumphant return to the Ranch House in NC
New York concert ads from NY Times and Village Voice
Flyer for the Ford's Theater run in Washington, DC
Flyer for concerts in New York at the Westside Theater
Jim Wann's homepage
Red Clay Ramblers and Theater
Order your own Diamond Studs script (includes all the lyrics and dialog) from Samuel French
Mojo Productions staging of Diamond Studs 2003 (Charlotte NC) and 2006 (Chapel Hill NC) - many articles, previews, reviews and how to buy the first-ever cast recording of the Studs songs (cast of the 2006 show)
send a $15 check to
Franklin Golden
820 Sedgefield Street
Durham, NC 27705
or contact

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April, 1999
updated October 26, 2013