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From the Land of Band Box Records

Lead Voices of the Drifters – Drifting Away

Clyde McPhatter Era

The Drifters’ first significant lead singer, Clyde McPhatter, would depart the group in October of 1954 due to receiving his draft notice from the armed services.  Clyde had taken a stance during his time with the Drifters insisting on a significant share of the group’s earnings – something that had been a sore point during his time with Billy Ward and his Dominoes.

Drifter owner George Treadwell had acquiesced on the demand but in return paid other group members a significantly lower salary – on average about $100 dollars a week – not pauper’s wages in 1953 but a far cry from McPhatter’s take.

David Baughan Era to Johnny Moore Era/s

The next lead singer – David Baughan – didn’t last long – the operatives at Atlantic Records were put off by his difficult and unmanageable attitude.  And so he was replaced by the lead vocalist for a group called “The Hornets” – Johnny Moore.

The Army called once again, taking Moore in 1957 an so on came Bobby Hendricks.  Bobby fronted the group for only one hit of any significance, “Drip Drop” in the spring of 1958.  Hendricks would then depart in May of 1958 – and this was just before Treadwell fired the entire lineup due to an argument during a performance at Harlem’s Apollo Theater with that institution’s management.

Johnny Moore would step aside from the Drifters in 1982 completely worn out from performing and touring but would organize his own group while residing in London.

Hollis/Hendricks to Ben E. King Era

There would be a succession of lesser known leads – Bobby Lee Hollis being one – Bobby Hendricks came back and then left again and then some stability was achieved with the addition of Ben E. King in 1958.  With King at the lead microphone, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller had been brought in by Atlantic to take over production duties and the Drifters thrived.

The Treadwell difficulties continued when King’s agent and Drifters’ road manager, Lover Patterson locked horns with Treadwell.  As a result Patterson refused to let Ben E. King tour with the Drifters and the writing was on the wall.  The end for the great lead singer came when he – as others had attempted – asked Treadwell for a raise.  He was promptly refused – and so departed to embark on a reasonably successful solo career.

Rudy Lewis Era

This ushered in the Rudy Lewis era, overlapping a bit with the addition for a second time of Johnny Moore.  These two would anchor the Drifters as leads through a very successful chart era.  Rudy would die suddenly  on May 20th, 1964 the night before the group was to record “Under the Boardwalk”.  Moore took over lead duties once again.

Bill Pickney Era

A side note: Original Drifter Bill Pickney who served in the second tenor role – switched to bass replacing Drifter Willie Ferbie – and his voice was prominent on the hits “Honey Love”, “Adorable”, “Ruby Baby” and famously on “White Christmas” interlacing vocals with Clyde McPhatter.

Bill’s first recording apart from the Drifters was on Sam’s Phillips’ Phillips International label in 1958 recording as “Bill Pinky and the Turks”.  As such, Bill was inducted for this recording into the Rockabilly Music Hall of Fame.  Sun had pretty much converted from black musicians to white rockabilly singers by 1958 and when Bill stepped into the studio he was the first black singer to do so in some time.  One of the tracks, “After the Hop” was composed by Bill along with Bill Justis – and Justis also played saxophone on the session.

After Bill was fired by Drifters’ manager/owner George Treadwell, he would form a group called “The Flyers” which also included Bobby Hendricks.  Earlier in his career, Bill was in a Gospel group called the “Jerusalem Stars” – a group which included Brook Benton.  Then, in 1958, Pinkney would return to the Drifter’s lineup bring Hendricks with him.  It was a short-lived run – Treadwell once again demonstrating his dictatorial approach to managing – firing the entire Drifter’s lineup.

By the mid 1980’s Pinkney’s “Original Drifters” would include Russell Henry, Charles Fowler and Chuck Cockerham – By the turn of the Century the group would be Pinkney along with Henry and Cockerham – now joined by Knight Dunbar and Roger Whitehead – None of these musicians recorded with the Drifters during the Atlantic Records era.

Clyde McPhatter died on June 13th, 1972 at age 39 from heart disease – Rudy Lewis died on May 20th, 1964 from what many believe was a drug overdose – He was only 27 – Ben E. King died on April 30th, 2015 at age 76 – Johnny Moore died on December 30th, 1998 at age 64.  Bill Pickney passed away on July 4th, 2007 at the age of 81.  He was the last original Drifter.  Bobby Hendricks is alive and living and has continued to perform in various versions of Drifters groups close to the present day.

Solo Drifters’ Selected Discography

Clyde McPhatter Discography

McPhatter would move through Atlantic to MGM then to Mercury before signing on with Amy Records in 1965 and then Deram in 1968 and finally Decca all with no chart success.

45 – Atlantic 45-1077 – Love Has Joined Us Together (with Ruth Brown) – Charted Number 8 R&B Charts – Released November, 1955

45 – Atlantic 45-1081 – Seven Days – Charted Number 2 R&B Charts – Number 44 Hot 100 Charts – Released December, 1955

45 – Atlantic 45-1092 – Treasure of Love – Charted Number 1 R&B Charts – Number 18 Hot 100 Charts – Released April, 1956

45 – Atlantic 45-1117 – Without Love (There Is Nothing) – Charted Number 4 R&B Charts – Number 19 Hot 100 – Released November, 1956

45 EP – Atlantic 584 – Clyde McPhatter – Released 1957

45 EP – Atlantic 605 – Rock With Clyde McPhatter – Released 1957

45 – Atlantic 45-1133 – Just To Hold My Hand – Charted Number 6 R&B Charts – Number 26 Hot 100 Charts – Released April, 1957

45 – Atlantic 45-1149 – Long Lonely Nights – Charted Number 1 R&B Charts – Number 49 Hot 100 Charts – Released August, 1957

45 – Atlantic 45-1158 – Rock and Cry – Charted Number 93 Hot 100 Charts – Released September, 1957

45 – Atlantic 45-1170 – No Love Like Her Love b/w That’s Enough For Me – Did Not Chart – Released January, 1958

45 – Atlantic 45-1185 – Come What May – Charted Number 3 R&B Charts – Number 43 Hot 100 Charts – Released April, 1958

45 – Atlantic 45-1199 – A Lover’s Question – Charted Number 1 R&B Charts – Number 6 Hot 100 Charts – Released September, 1958

45 EP – Atlantic 618 – A Lover’s Question – Released January, 1959

45 – Atlantic 45-2018 – Lovey Dovey – Charted Number 12 R&B Charts – Number 49 Hot 100 Charts – Released March, 1959

45 – MGM 12780 – I Told Myself A Lie – Charted Number 70 Hot 100 Charts – Released March, 1959

45 – Atlantic 45-2028 – Since You’ve Been Gone – Charted Number 14 R&B Charts – Number 38 Hot 100 Charts – Released May, 1959

45 – MGM 12816 – Twice As Nice – Charted Number 91 Hot 100 Charts – Released July, 1959

45 – MGM 12843 – Let’s Try Again – Charted Number 48 Hot 100 Charts – Released October, 1959

45 – Atlantic 45-2038 – You Went Back On Your Word – Charted Number 13 R&B Charts – Number 72 Hot 100 Charts – Released January, 1960

45 – Atlantic 45-2049 – Just Give Me A Ring – Charted Number 96 Hot 100 Charts – Released January, 1960

45 – MGM 12877 – Think Me A Kiss – Charted Number 66 Hot 100 Charts – Released February, 1960

45 – Mercury  12843 – Ta Ta – Charted Number 7 R&B Charts – Number 23 Hot 100 Charts – Released July, 1960

45 – MGM 12949 – This Is Not Goodbye b/w One Right After Another – Did Not Chart – Released October, 1960

45 EP – Mercury 80 – Golden Blues Hits – Released 1961

45 – Mercury 71783 – Tomorrow Is A Comin’ b/w I’ll Love You Til The Cows Come Home – Double Sided Hit – Charted Numbers 103 and 110 Bubbling Under Charts – Released February, 1961

45 – Mercury 71841 – I Never Knew – Charted Number 17 R&B Charts – Number 56 Hot 100 Charts – Released June, 1961

45 – Mercury 71941 – Lover Please – Charted Number 7 Hot 100 Charts – Released February, 1962

45 – Mercury 71987 – Little Bitty Pretty One – Charted Number 25 Hot 100 Charts – Released May, 1962

45 – Mercury 72025 – Maybe b/w I Do Believe – Did Not Chart – Released September, 1962

45 – Mercury 72051 – The Best Man Cried – Charted Number 118 Bubbling Under Charts – Released October, 1962

45 – Mercury 72166 – From One To One – Charted Number 127 Bubbling Under Charts – Released August, 1963

45 – Mercury 72220 – Deep In the Heart Of Harlem – Charted Number 10 R&B Charts – Number 90 Hot 100 Charts – Released December, 1963

45 – Mercury 72243 – In My Tenement b/w Second Window, Second Floor – Did Not Chart – Released March, 1964

45 – Mercury 72407 – Crying Won’t Help You Now – Charted Number 22 R&B Charts – Number 117 Bubbling Under Charts – Released March, 1965

45 – Deram 85032 – Only A Fool b/w Thank You Love – Did Not Chart – Released August, 1968

Clyde McPhatter Selected Long Play Discography

None of Clyde’s LP’s managed to reach the popularity charts

LP – Atlantic 8024 – Love Ballads – Released November, 1958

LP – MGM 3775 – Let’s Star Over Again – Released August, 1959

LP – Atlantic 8031 – Clyde – Released September, 1959

LP – MGM 3866 – Clyde’s McPhatter’s Greatest Hits – Released July, 1960

LP – Mercury 60262 – Ta Ta – Released October, 1960

LP – Mercury 20655 – Golden Blues Hits – Released November, 1961

LP – Mercury 20711 – Lover Please! – Released May, 1962

LP – Mercury Wing 16224 – May I Sing For You? – Released May, 1962

LP – Mercury 20750 – Rhythm and Soul – Released November, 1962

LP – Mercury 60783 – Clyde McPhatter’s Greatest Hits – Released June, 1963

LP – Atlantic 8077 – The Best Of Clyde McPhatter – Released July, 1963

LP – Mercury 20902 – Songs of the Big City – Released April, 1964

LP – Mercury 20915 – Live At the Apollo – Released August, 1964

LP – Decca 75231 – Welcome Home – Released August, 1970

Ben E. King Discography

45 – Atco 6185 – Spanish Harlem – Charted Number 15 R&B Charts – Number 10 Hot 100 Charts – b/w First Taste of Love – Charted Number 53 Hot 100 Charts – Released November, 1960

45 – Atco 6194 – Stand By Me – Charted Number 1 for 4 Weeks R&B Charts – Number 4 Hot 100 Charts – Released April, 1961

45 – Atco 6203 – Amor – Charted Number 10 R&B Charts – Number 18 Hot 100 Charts – Released July, 1961

45 – Atco 6207 – Young Boy Blues b/w Here Comes The Night – Double Sided Hit – Charted Numbers 66 and 81 Hot 100 Charts – Released September, 1961

45 – Atco 6215 – Ecstasy – Charted Number 56 Hot 100 Charts – Released January, 1962

45 – Atco 6222 – Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) – Charted Number 2 R&B Charts – Number 10 Hot 100 Charts – Released April, 1962

45 – Atco 6231 – Too Bad – Charted Number 88 Hot 100 Charts – Released July, 1962

45 – Atco 6237 – I’m Standing By – Charted Number 111 Bubbling Under Charts – Released October, 1962

45 – Atco 6246 – Tell Daddy – Charted Number 29 R&B Charts – Number 122 Bubbling Under Charts – Released December, 1962

45 – Atco 6256 – How Can I Forget – Charted Number 23 R&B Charts – Number 85 Hot 100 Charts – Released February, 1963

45 – Atco 6267 – I (Who Have Nothing) – Charted Number 16 R&B Charts – Number 29 Hot 100 Charts – Released June, 1963

45 – Atco 6275 – I Could Have Danced All Night – Charted Number 72 Hot 100 Charts – Released October, 1963

45 EP – Atco 33-165 – Ben E. King’s Greatest Hits – Released 1964

45 – Atco 6288 – That’s When It Hurts b/w Around the Corner – Double Sided Hit – Side 1 Number 17 R&B Charts – Number 63 Hot 100 Charts – Side 2 Number 125 Bubbling Under Charts – Released March, 1964

45 – Atco 6303 – What Can A Man Do – Charted Number 39 R&B Charts – Number 113 Bubbling Under Charts – Released June, 1964

45 – Atco 6315 – It’s All Over – Charted Number 40 R&B Charts – Number 72 Hot 100 Charts – Released September, 1964

45 – Atco 6328 – Seven Letters – Charted Number 11 R&B Charts – Number 45 Hot 100 Charts – Released December, 1964

45 – Atco 6343 – The Record (Baby I Love You) – Charted Number 24 R&B Charts – Number 84 Hot 100 Charts – Released March, 1965

45 – Atco 6357 – She’s Gone Again – Charted Number 128 Bubbling Under Charts – Released May, 1965

45 – Atco 6390 – Goodnight My Love – Charted Number 91 Hot 100 Charts – Released December, 1965

45 – Atco 6413 – So Much Love – Charted Number 96 Hot 100 Charts – Released April, 1966

45 – Atco 6454 – What Is Soul? – Charted Number 38 R&B Charts – Released November, 1966

45 – Atco 6472 – Tears, Tears, Tears – Charted Number 34 R&B Charts – Number 93 Hot 100 Charts – Released March, 1967

45 – Atco 6557 – We Got A Thing Going On – Charted Number 127 Bubbling Under Charts – Released February, 1968

45 – Atco 6571 – Don’t Take Your Love From Me – Charted Number 44 R&B Charts – Number 117 Bubbling Under Charts – Released April, 1968

45 – Atco 6637 – Til I Can’t Take It Anymore – Charted Number 45 R&B Charts – Number 134 Bubbling Under Charts – Released November, 1968

45 – Maxwell 800 – I Can’t Take It Like A Man – Charted Number 45 R&B Charts – Released November, 1969

45 – Atlantic 3241 – Supernatural Thing – Charted Number 1 R&B Charts – Number 5 Hot 100 Charts – Released January, 1975

45 – Atlantic 3274 – Do It In the Name of Love – Charted Number 4 R&B Charts – Number 60 Hot 100 Charts – Released May, 1975

45 – Atlantic 3308 – I Had A Love – Charted Number 23 R&B Charts – Released December, 1975

45 – Atlantic 3402 – Get It Up – Charted Number 21 R&B Charts – Released May, 1977

45 – Atlantic 3427 – A Star in the Ghetto – Charted Number 25 R&B Charts – Released August, 1977

45 – Atlantic 3635 – Music Trance – Charted Number 29 R&B Charts – Released January, 1980

45 – Atlantic 89361 – Stand By Me – Charted Number 9 Hot 100 – Released September, 1986

(From the motion picture of the same name)

Ben E. King Long Play Discography

LP – Atco 133 – Spanish Harlem – Charted Number 57 LP Charts – Released July, 1961

LP – Atco 137 – Ben E. King Sings For Soulful Lovers – Released February, 1962

LP – Atco 142 – Don’t Play That Song! – Released May, 1962

LP – Clarion 606 – Young Boy Blues – Released 1965

LP – Atco 174 – Seven Letters – Released January, 1965

LP – Maxwell 88001 – Rough Edges – Released 1970

LP – Mandella 3007 – The Beginning Of It All – Released 1971

LP – Alantic 18132 – Supernatural – Charted Number 39 LP Charts – Released April, 1975

LP – Atlantic 18169 – I Had A Love – Released 1976

LP – Atlantic 19105 – Benny and Us – Charted Number 33 LP Charts – (with the Average White Band) – Released June, 1977

LP – Atlantic 19200 – Let Me Live In Your Life – Released 1978

LP – Atlantic 19269 – Music Trance – Released 19080

LP – Atlantic 19300 – Street Tough – Released 1981

Johnny Moore Discography

(Johnny Moore also recorded as “Johnny Darrow” after coming back home from his stint in the Army – His birth name was John Darrel Moore)

45 – Sue 726 – Why Do You Treat Me This Way b/w Hand In Hand – Released April, 1960

45 – Sue 728 – Jo Ann Delilah b/w Don’t Start Me Talking – Released August, 1960

45 – Sue 733 – That’s Good b/w Hold Hands Break Hearts – Released November, 1960

45 – Sue 741 – Love Is A Nightmare b/w Poor Boy – Released 1961

45 – Sue 738 – Chew Tobacco b/w The Spider Walk – Released January, 1961

45 – Melic 0013 – A Fool’s Paradise b/w Miracle – Released 1963

45 – Weezie 101 – Don’t Start Me Talking b/w Joann Deliah – Released 1989

Rudy Lewis Discography

45 – Red Top 124 – A Rainbow In My Eyes b/w Nobody Knows – Released 1959

45 – Atlantic 45-2193 – Baby I Dig Love b/w I’ve Loved You So Long – Released June, 1963

Bill Pinkney Discography

Image result for bill pinkney

45 – Phillips International 3524 – After The Hop b/w Sally’s Got A Sister – Released March, 1958

45 – Fontana 1956 – I Do The Jerk b/w Don’t Call Me – Released December, 1964

45 – Veep 1264 – The Masquerade Is Over b/w I Found Some Lovin’ – (with “The Originals”) Released May, 1967

45 – Game 393 – Can You Forgive (If You Can’t Forget) b/w Ol’ Man River – (with “The O.D.’s”) – Released 1968

45 – Game 394 – Millionaire b/w Ol’ Man River – (with “The Original Drifters”) – released 1969

45 – S&J 800826 – (More Than A Number In My) Little Red Book b/w I Count The Tears – (with “The Original Drifters”) – Released 1980

45 – Christopher 103 – Just Drifting Along b/w I’m The Original – (with “The Original Drifters”) Released 1989

Bobby Hendricks Discography

45 – Sue 706 – Itchy Twitchy Feeling – Charted Number 5 R&B Charts – Number 25 Hot 100 Charts – Released June, 1958

45 – Sue 732 – Psycho – Charted Number 73 Hot 100 Charts – Released September, 1960

45 – Mercury 71881 – I’m Coming Home – Charted Number 103 Bubbling Under Charts – Released September, 1961

45 – MGM 13179 – Let’s Get Over It b/w Love In My Heart – Did Not Chart – Released October, 1963

45 – Williams 001 – She Used To Hold Me b/w Go On Home Girl – Did Not Chart – Released September, 1968

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