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The Drifters

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Biography

New York City, NY, USA (1953 – present)

The Drifters are a long-lived R&B band, originally formed by Clyde McPhatter (of Billy Ward & The Dominoes) in 1953 from New York City, NY, USA. There have been over 60 members since 1953. www.theofficialdrifters.com shows the current lineup and tour dates.

The original Drifters

Ahmet Ertegün of Atlantic Records approached Clyde McPhatter after he left The Dominoes and signed him. McPhatter first recruited several 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 aggregation lasted for only a single session (from which “Lucille” was the only song released), after which Atlantic asked McPhatter to form a different group. He finally settled on Gerhart Thrasherand Andrew Thrasher on baritone and second tenor, respectively, Bill Pinkney on high tenor, Willie Ferbee as bass, and Walter Adams on guitar. This is the group on the second session, which produced the group’s first major hit: “Money Honey”.

After the session, Ferbee was involved in an accident and left the group and Adams died (to be replaced by Jimmy Oliver). Ferbee was not replaced 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,” [1][2] “Honey Love,” “Bip Bam,” “White Christmas,” and “What’cha Gonna Do”) before McPhatter was drafted in May 1954 (after which he pursued a solo career). McPhatter had demanded a large share of the group’s profits, which he had been denied in The Dominoes, but, upon his departure, did not ensure that this would continue for his successor.

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