The Drifters


At the Club

On the original Manchester Soul scene the Drifters were without doubt one of the major loved artists.
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 new Wheel.

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 Drifters.
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 joined.
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 Jimmy Milner.
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 bassist.
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 Drifters.
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 Manchester's Blue Note club.

Up in the Streets of Harlem