Buffalo legend Lance Diamond received one more standing ovation Thursday night at the North Park Theatre. It was opening night for the new locally filmed documentary about his life and career, "A Diamond in the Buff."
Among the invitation-only crowd were family and friends, locals who appear in the film and fans of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame singer who entertained Western New Yorkers for more than four decades until his death in January 2015. His sister, Paulette Counts, appears in the film and said she "loved the final production."
"It's a very emotional night," Counts said. "I know it's something Lance would have wanted to be a part of. I mean, I'm so excited. I'm overwhelmed to know that Western New York loved him this much. I am just overwhelmed. Lance would be so proud. I've got my Kleenex in my purse because I know they're going to be needed."
Back-up singer/dancer Joyce Wilson Nixon performed with Diamond for some 10 years as a 24 Karat Gold girl. She said the most important thing about the night was that "we get to honor Lance."
"When people ask me what was my biggest accomplishment, I say it's not when I'm out front, it's when I was being a Diamond girl," Nixon said. "Most people don't know how much of a gentleman Lance was. He would give you the bigger dressing room. He would make sure that you have water, that you had whatever you needed. He had no idea what it meant to be Lance Diamond because he was never Lance Diamond to himself. He just took care of everybody around him."
The film traces Diamond's close ties to Buffalo, from his days in the U.S. Navy to the heart complications that ultimately took his life at age 69. Among the many locals featured are Robby Takac of the Goo Goo Dolls, who for a time lived downstairs from Diamond and remained friends, and the owners of the Elmwood Lounge and Milkie's on Elmwood, where Diamond entertained for decades.
Thursday night was a one-night-only showing of the documentary, but Director and Buffalo native Kevin Polowy - who told the crowd he grew up on Sterling Avenue, just a couple blocks from the North Park - said he expects the film to make a return to the theater soon for general audiences.