Derek and Alan Longmuir who went on to be an integral part of the Rollers had been together since 1965 performing as The Saxons. Tam Paton a shrewd manager took them under his wing in 1970 changed their name, got them a record contract which was followed by a minor hit Keep on Dancing. Seeing little follow up success he brought into the Band Les McKeown, Stuart Wood and Eric Faulkner. Paton devised the Tartan uniform, on and off stage wear which immediately set them apart and with a string of hits they quickly became a massive teenage sentsation., both in the UK and eventually USA.
The bands first hit was 'Keep On Dancing' which was released in 1971. It was a cover of the 1965 hit by The Gentrys. This was the first of many hits as they quickly found fame in the UK and across Europe. During 1973 however, they released four more singles after 'Keep on Dancing' and they did not scrape the charts. Original lead singer Gordon 'Nobby' Clarke became disillusioned due to the lack of success by the band and decided to leave. As Les McKeown took over the lead vocals, the Rollers popularity exploded. With their first top ten hit 'Remember (Sha La La)', they quickly became the next big thing. Other hits include 'Shang-A-Lang', 'Summerlove Sensation' and 'All Of Me Loves All Of You'. After they covered the Four Seasons classic 'Bye, Bye, Baby', they scored their first number one. They were quickly on on the tip of everyones lips, being tipped to be the next Beatles and to dominate the world.
As they broke the US in 1976 with a number one song (Saturday Night) and a number one album (Bay City Rollers), they seemed to be on the top of the world. In the same year, they hit the charts again with 'Money Honey' and the Dusty Springfield cover 'I Only Want To Be With You'. However, that year was to be the height of their success in the US as it saw the decline of the Bay City Rollers.
Despite their seeming boy next door, clean living image they were in fact consuming vast amounts of drink, drugs and groupies! Disaster was just waiting to happen, McKeown killed a pensioner by dangerous driving, Faulkner overdosed on Seconal and Valium and attempted suicide along with Alan Longmuir, whilst Paton was jailed for indecent acts with underage boys. The band had also begun to believe they were musical geniuses and ditched the writers of their successful songs, and failed to have another hit. Despite line up changes and half hearted reunions the Band never recovered from the bad publicity and are now really just a footnote in a music archive.
Once Upon A Star, 1975
Wouldn’t You Like It?, 1975
Rock N’ Roll Love Letter, 1976
It’s A Game. 1977
Greatest Hits, 1977
Strangers In The Wind, 1978
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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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