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Diane's Story

I was born and raised in San Francisco.
I listened to the big band sounds in my early years and loved the jazzy vocalists. I took piano lessons, ballet, tap dancing, and modern dance. By Jr. High I had started listening to KDIA the soul radio station, and I watched Dick Clark's Dance Party on TV. During high school I was singing and dancing in a doo-wop group, and hung out at Mel's drive-in where the outdoor waitresses wore roller skates. I cruised Mission St. in my '52 Studebaker and sped along the great highway next to Ocean Beach where Playland was the place to go, never knowing that in later years I would be performing at the same location to be known as The Family Dog.
As far as how I starting playing drums? Well, I guess I first noticed that it was the drums that made me dance. I began sitting in with any band that would let me just to get the experience of playing drums in a band (great fun). I dreamed of playing drums in a all-girl group, and that's what happened.
It was 1966 in the Haight Ashbury district that I met the girls who would become The Ace of Cups, and I would be dedicated to this group until 1972.
The Ace of Cups opened for Jimmy Hendrix in Golden Gate Park's panhandle.
We played The Avalon Ballroom, The Fillmore Auditorium where Bill Graham introduced our opening with the other local bands, to mention a few: QuickSilver, Jefferson Airplane, The Sons of Champlin, and Big Brother and the Holding Co. with Janis Joplin. One of the most memorable gigs for me was opening with the Sons of Champlin for The Band (Big Pink) at Winterland. The Ace of Cups are noted on The Last Waltz CD jacket.
The Aces went on tour with Jefferson Airplane to Vancouver, BC, then on to Chicago's south side to open for the blues greats Nick Gravenities, Michael Bloomfield, Sam Lay, Al Jackson, Buddy Miles, Muddy Waters and more. As a member of the Ace of Cups we recorded on many of these performers record albums as background singers. (listed under studio session recordings, coming soon)
After 6 yrs. of drumming and singing backups, I learned to take on singing lead vocals while playing drums. I joined The Fairfax St. Choir lead by Marla Hansen (Ace) with the players from the Tazmanian Devils, David Freiberg from QuickSilver as well as Peter Tork from The Monkeys, Van Morrison for a short stint, and members from the now Light House Singers. There were at lease 16 singers as well as tap dancers Lynnie Karter and Christopher that made this group a novelty. Our big gig was for Bill Graham opening for Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.
I continued my musical ventures with many bands, and one was the Ceta Big Band in Santa Rosa, CA. We played all the schools in and around the area bringing them the history of Jazz. I then joined The Bob Simmons Band which played casuals, clubs, and for a few years played at the Silverado Country club in Napa. I had also fronted my own band Lady Di & The Dukes for weddings and private parties.
I occasionally play casuals and clubs with The David Hardiman Quintet, and the band Borderline from West Marin. I am now putting all my years of experience into recording original tunes with my long-term boyfriend Mike Manning who plays guitar, does web design (theaceofcups.com), and is the recording engineer for the tunes we have written together.
I continue to play music with The Ace of Cups at our reunions, and I hope to collaborate with them again soon on new material as well as some Ace classics.
My heartfelt thanks goes to Ambrose Hollingsworth the Ace's first manager, and to Ron Polte our second manager whose friendship is everlasting, and a special new friend Alec Palao of Ace Records in London, who understood the importance of a generation of music that deserved to be heard.
With Love and Admiration, the main drum teachers in my life: Jerry Granelli, Chuck Brown and Pete Magadini.

Thank you, Thank you, and Thank You,

Diane Vitalich

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