Rhythm and Blues greats The Drifters were formed in 1953 in New York, USA by Clyde McPhatter (of Billy Ward & The Dominoes) after he was approached by Atlantic Records. McPhatter recruited several members of his former group, the Mount Lebanon Singers, but this only lasted a single session. Although the band originally consisted of his former band members, this only lasted for one session, and the group soon changed to; Gerhart Thrasher and Andrew Thrasher on baritone and second tenor, Bill Pinkney on high tenor, Willie Ferbee as bass, and Walter Adams on guitar. This is the group on the second session, who produced the smash-hit ‘Money Honey’.
After this release, Ferbee was involved in an accident and Adams sadly passed, to be replaced by Jimmy Oliver. Ferbee was not replaced, although voice parts were switched about. The group released several hits, including; ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Bip Bam’, before McPhatter left in 1954 to persue a solo career. He was later replaced by Johnny Moore. This line-up had a major hit with ‘Adorable’ in 1955, and many more hits followed.
Low salaries soon lead to a burnout between band members, seeing Pinkney and C Thrasher leaving, who were replaced by Tommy Evans and Charlie Hughes. This was the last quality line-up, who had a Top Ten hit with ‘Fools Fall in Love’ in 1957.
By early 1958, the line-up had, again changed, and was now; Bobby Hendricks (lead tenor), Gerhart Thrasher (first tenor), Jimmy Millender (baritone), Tommy Evans (bass), and Jimmy Oliver (guitar). This line-up had one moderate hit, the original version of "Drip Drop". With declining popularity, the last of the original Drifters were reduced to working the club scene and doing double duty with gigs under different band names. Oh dear.
Members include Willie Ferbee (left group, 1958), vocals; Bobby Hendricks (born on February 22, 1938, in Columbus, OH; group member, 1957-58), lead vocals; Ben E. King (born on September 23, 1938, in Henderson, NC; group member, 1959-60), lead vocals; Rudy Lewis (born on August 23, 1936, in Philadelphia, PA; died on May 20, 1964, in New York, NY; joined group, 1961), lead vocals; Clyde McPhatter (born on November 15, 1932, in Durham, NC; died on June 13, 1972, in Teaneck, NJ; left group, 1954), lead vocals; Johnny Moore (born in 1934 in Selma, AL; died on December 30, 1998, in Los Angeles, CA; group member, 1955-57, 1963), lead vocals; Andrew Thrasher (left group, 1956), vocals; Gerhart Thrasher (left group, 1958), vocals.
Group formed, 1953; "Money Honey" became number one R&B single, 1953; released "Such a Night" and "Honey Love," 1954; released Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, 1956; single "There Goes My Baby" reached number two on the pop charts, 1959; recorded "Some Kind of Wonderful," "Up on the Roof," "Please Stay," and "On Broadway," 1960-64; recorded "Under the Boardwalk" with lead singer Johnny Moore, 1964; disbanded, late 1960s; various members have continued to regroup as the Original Drifters and under other names.
Awards: Induction, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1988.
Addresses:Record company—Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90025, website: http://www.rhino.com.
Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, Atlantic, 1956.
The Drifters' Greatest Hits, Atlantic, 1960.
Save the Last Dance for Me, Atlantic, 1962.
Under the Boardwalk, Atlantic, 1964.
The Very Best of the Drifters, Rhino, 1993.
Rockin' & Driftin': the Drifters' Box, Rhino, 1996.
Sources: Carly Page, Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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