Soul Survivors; the Oldest Pop Group on the Planet Hit the Headlines Last Week When Their Car Crashed on a Motorway. the Drifters Survived to Sing Another Day and Are about to Tour the UK. GAYLE RITCHIE Looks at the Turbulent History of a Boyband That Has Seen 50 Members Come and Go since It Formed in 1953 in Harlem, New York

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), March 18, 2007 | Go to article overview

Soul Survivors; the Oldest Pop Group on the Planet Hit the Headlines Last Week When Their Car Crashed on a Motorway. the Drifters Survived to Sing Another Day and Are about to Tour the UK. GAYLE RITCHIE Looks at the Turbulent History of a Boyband That Has Seen 50 Members Come and Go since It Formed in 1953 in Harlem, New York


Byline: GAYLE RITCHIE

1 Founder member Clyde McPhatter found William "Chick" Anderson, David Baldwin, James "Wrinkle" Johnson and David "Little Dave" Baughan, singing at the Mount Lebanon Church in Harlem in 1953.

But the first Drifters line-up lasted for just one session from which Lucille was the only song released.

McPhatter then chose Gerhart Thrasher and Andrew Thrasher on baritone and second tenor, Bill Pinkney on high tenor, Willie Ferbee as bass and Walter Adams on guitar.

This group had their first number one Money Honey and more hits followed within 12 months.

2 Clyde quit the band and manager George Treadwell, who is believed to have owned the right to the band name - fired the entire group in 1958.

But Atlantic Records wanted to cash in on The Drifters name so Treadwell hired new singer Ben E. King along with his group the Crowns.

Their first record - There Goes My Baby - reached number two in 1959. But things got complicated when King left in 1960 to go solo.

3 Rudy Lewis took over on lead vocals and Johnny Moore - who had been in the band from 1954 until 1957 when he was drafted - was rehired.

The Drifters enjoyed several hits with Lewis on lead vocals. These included Some Kind Of Wonderful, Sweets For My Sweet, Up On The Roof and Please Stay.

But Lewis died in mysterious circumstances the night before the band was due to record Under The Boardwalk.

Moore, left, stepped in to replace him on lead vocals.

He moved to England with a new group of Drifters and toured clubs and cabarets. The band signed to British Bell and they had a number of hits including My First Love.

Moore was to become the longest serving band member and he performed with them until shortly before his death on New Year's Eve 1998, aged 64.

4 Wet Wet Wet were inspired by the Drifters for their iconic pose on the cover of their 1987 Popped in Souled Out album.

5 Each singer was paid every seventh gig and all contracts stated that The Drifters belonged exclusively to Treadwells and that the name could not at any time be used by other line-ups. Ex-members were barred from advertising the fact that they had been a member of the band. …

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Soul Survivors; the Oldest Pop Group on the Planet Hit the Headlines Last Week When Their Car Crashed on a Motorway. the Drifters Survived to Sing Another Day and Are about to Tour the UK. GAYLE RITCHIE Looks at the Turbulent History of a Boyband That Has Seen 50 Members Come and Go since It Formed in 1953 in Harlem, New York
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