On the original
Manchester Soul scene the Drifters were without doubt one of the major
Simply loads of their records were played. 'At The Club' and 'Sing Sing
Sing' were particular favourites at the Allnighters at the old and the
In 1953 Ahmet Ertegun owner of Atlantic records met with Clyde McPhatter
to arrange for him to be the lead singer of a new group called the
Clyde was up to this time a member of Billy Wards Dominoes.
The original group alongside Clyde were; David Baughan (first Tenor),
William 'Chick' Anderson (second Tenor), David Baldwin (Baritone) and
James Johnson (Bass).
However the line up changed in those early fifties years to also
include; brothers Andrew and Gerhart Thrasher, Bill Pinkney Walter Adams
and William Ferbie. It was the second line up that recorded the first
Drifters LP; Money Honey'.
Now it gets more confusing; Ferbie and Adams left and Jimmy Oliver
Bill Pinkney left to join Do Wop group 'The Flyers'and later on 'The
Original Drifters'! Clyde left in 1954, David Baughan replaced him for
recording 'Honey Bee' and was also soon replaced by Johnny Moore and it
was Bill Pinkney that introduced him to the group.
However Johnny soon became drafted into the army and so he got replaced
by Bobby Hendricks, who was joined by Billy Kennedy and Dee Ernie Bailey.
(We said it was confusing and it continues!) Tommy Evans and Charlie
Hughes also joined, but Hughes was also drafted and he was replaced by
You can see how later when at the heights of their popularity so many
'original' Drifter groups appeared on the live touring circuit and there
were more line up changes yet to mention!
By 1958 the personnel was: Ben E King (AKA Ben Nelson) on lead, Charlie
Thomas and Dock Green as baritones and Elsbeary Hobbs as the groups deep
Allegedly the group members were prone to bouts of heavy drinking, and
their manager George Treadwell replaced the entire line up with a
completely new set of singers who were formally known as the 'Crowns'.
We Gotta Sing
Ben E King recorded 'Spanish Harlem' and the group begun recording the
tracks that are their soul hallmark; e.g. 'There Goes My baby' 'Dance
With Me' etc In 1960 with more changes they recorded more great sides,
and this line-up consisted of Rudy Lewis (lead vocals) Charlie Thomas
(Lead Tenor) Tommy Evans (Bass) and Dock Green (Baritone) however he soon
left and was replaced by Gene Pearson (from the Cleftones). Then shortly
after Tommy Evans went on his merry way.
Rudy Lewis died in 1964 and this was when Johnny Moore re-entered the
group but only for a year.
A one time manager of the Drifters; Lover Patterson formed another
entirely different group of Drifters with Bill Pinkney and other former
You can see how it came to pass that identifying a core group of
definitive Drifters is difficult, as throughout the 1960's there where
many more personnel changes.
When the Drifters appeared at the Twisted Wheel (twice) nobody was
certain of the line-up and amazingly another 'Original Drifters' was
playing in Salford at the same period (they were to become/where the
Invitations!) Another Drifters Twisted Wheel connected story is that on
their second gig at the club the place was heaving much more than usual
with allnighter goers as around a hundred extra revellers were admitted
with counterfeit tickets!
By the late 60's there was a revival of the Drifters with tracks like 'Aretha'and
the fantastic 'Up In The Streets Of Harlem' a song heavily featured at