The Drifters Tickets
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The persistent American duo ?the Drifters'- famous for their R&B vocal group, was formed in 1953, initially by Clyde McPhatter who was previously a member of Billy Ward & the Dominoes).After McPhatter left the Dominoes, Ahmet Erteg?n of Atlantic Records approached him and signed him. Initially, McPhatter hired some members of his former group, the Mount Lebanon Singers: William Chick Anderson (tenor), David Baldwin (baritone), and James Wrinkle Johnson (bass), plus David Little Dave Baughan (tenor). This union only lasted a session. Later, Atlantic asked McPhatter to shape up a new group. He at last settled on Gerhart and Andrew Thrasher on baritone and second tenor, correspondingly, Bill Pinkney on high tenor, Willie Ferbee as bass, and Walter Adams on guitar. This, group on the second session, produced the group's first major hit: Money Honey.
After the session, Ferbee suffered a major accident and left the group and Adams passed away. Ferbee was not substituted and the voice parts were shifted around: Gerhart Thrasher became first tenor, Andrew Thrasher was now the baritone, and Bill Pinkney shifted down to bass. The group released several more hits (Such A Night, Honey Love, Bip Bam, White Christmas, and What'cha Gonna Do) before McPhatter was drafted in May 1954, later then, he went on to pursue a solo career. McPhatter had asked for a big share from the group's profits, which was denied in the Dominoes, and so he had he left. He sold his share of the group to the manager George Treadwell, who himself was a former jazz trumpeter, and also spouse of renowned singer Sarah Vaughan. As a result, the Drifters hired numerous members, none of whom made much money. McPhatter later expressed regret at this action, recognizing that it doomed his fellow musicians to unpredictability.
McPhatter was swapped by David Baughn, who was on the group's first session. While his voice was akin to McPhatter's, his unpredictable behavior lowered his reputation in the eyes of Atlantic Records executives. Baughn shortly abandoned the group, and was replaced by Cleveland native Johnny Moore (of The Hornets). This lineup had a major R&B hit in 1955 with Adorable, followed by several others (Ruby Baby, I Got To Get Myself A Woman, and Fools Fall In Love).In the mid 1950s, the Drifters started working with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, well-known lyricists, who ultimately became the group's producers too. The Low income was consequently, making the band members less enthusiastic, predominantly Bill Pinkney, who was fired after asking Treadwell for more money. Andrew Thrasher left as well, in remonstration. Pinkney formed another group, called The Flyers, with lead singer Bobby Hendricks, who left to join the Drifters the next year.
In the interim, Bill Pinkney joined with the Thrashers and David Baughan began touring as The Original Drifters (although their first recordings, for End in 1959, were as the Harmony Grits). Baughan left after a short time, leaving behind three members. In 1964 Bobby Lee Hollis joined the band and took the lead place. Later that year, Andrew Thrasher was out and Jimmy Lewis was in. Bobby Hendricks returned, making the group a quintet for a short time, before Lewis left. Andrew Thrasher returned, replacing Hollis. Hollis and Baughan bounced in and out through the 1960s. By 1968, the group was Pinkney, Gerhart Thrasher, Hollis, and Hendricks. At this point, the group broke up.
Pinkney met with an existing group, The Tears, and recruited them as the new Original Drifters. The Tears were Benny Anderson, George Wallace, Albert Fortson, and Mark Williams. Shortly after recruiting them, they broke away from Pinkney and continued touring as the Original Drifters for over a decade.Pinkney then brought in new members Bruce Caesar, Clarence Tex Walker, and Bruce Richardson. The lineup changed rapidly. In 1979 the group was Pinkney, Andrew Lawyer, Chuck Cockerham, Harriel Jackson, and Tony Cook. Their 1995 album Peace in the Valley, on Blackberry Records, credited vocals to Pinkney, Cockerham, Richard Knight Dunbar, Vernon Young, and Greg Johnson. They appeared on the PBS special, Doo Wop 51 with Pinkney, Dunbar, Johnson, and Bobby Hendricks. The current lineup is Pinkney, Cockerham, Dunbar, Young, and Clyde McPhatter's son, Ron McPhatter. Greg Johnson is now in Bobby Hendricks' Drifters.
Afterward that year, the group was scheduled to record Under the Boardwalk on May 21. However, Rudy Lewis died the night before the session, and Johnny Moore took over as the sole lead (he and Lewis had been alternating). Terry was swapped in 1966 by Dan Dandridge for a couple of months, and then by William Brent, who had been with Johnny Moore in the Hornets in 1954. Gene Pearson was replaced with by Rick Sheppard that same year. By late 1966, baritone/bass Bill Fredricks replaced William Brent. Charlie Thomas, the group's last original member (from the day the Five Crowns had become the Drifters), left in mid-1967 and was replaced by Charles Baskerville, a former member of The Limelites. Baskerville stayed only a short time, leaving before a session. Baritone Milton Turner was added by the end of 1967. In late 1969, Milton Turner left and was replaced by another singer named Charlie Thomas who adopted the pet name Don Thomas to avoid perplexity with the former member. This group lasted only a few months. By March 1970, the Drifters split up again. Johnny Moore and Bill Fredericks regrouped in January 1971, alongside two unknown singers to work an independently-produced session which, consequently, was sold to Atlantic. A Rose By Any Other Name and Be My Lady became the Drifters' last Atlantic release.
In 2001, Faye Treadwell left the United Kingdom, purportedly due to impoverishment. Two members of the company, Mark Lundquist and Phil Lunderman, started a new management company, Drifters UK Limited, to run the group. Their new duties included stopping a copyright by a pretender Drifters group.
As of December 2006, writs have been served in the London High Court by Tina Treadwell, daughter of George and Faye, against Lundquist and Lunderman, alleging they are not the rightful controllers of The Drifters. Tina's group features Roy Hemmings and Jason Leigh. Primarily Hemmings remained with Lundquist and Lunderman, and left after three years following the formation of Drifters UK Limited. It will be interesting to see how things transpire should Treadwell win her case, from the time when the current Drifters lineup touring the UK has built up a fan base selling out one tour after another with Johnny Moore and continuing after his death. The Vocal Group Hall of Fame has inducted both 'The Original Drifters' (1998) and 'Ben E. King and The Drifters'(2000).
In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked The Drifters #81 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.Unfortunately, Bill Pinkney passed away due to a heart attack on July 4, 2007, in his room at the Hilton Hotel, Daytona Beach, Florida. He was here to perform for the 4th of July Red, White and Boom Event.
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