Bill Pinkney's Original Drifters
Ahmet Ertegun called The Drifters "the all-time greatest Atlantic group." Indeed they were; as Billy Vera's excellent liner notes detail, The Drifters' sound evolved from a rockin' R&B style with Clyde McPhatter to the latter-day smooth-as-silk vocal approach that continued to score chart hits in England until 1976. No other vocal group had as much success artistically and commercially as The Drifters.
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Their sound benefited from the wisdom and production talents of Jerry Wexler, Ahmet Ertegun, Nesuhi Ertegun, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Bert Berns and Jeff Barry, to name a few. The songwriting was always top-notch, featuring the likes of Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman, Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Phil Spector, Leiber and Stoller, Burt Bacharach, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Jesse Stone, and even Irving Berlin. Combined with arrangements that were often very sophisticated for pop songs, the recordings were often spectacular as well as memorable. When a Drifters record came on the radio, you immediately knew who it was. Early '50s teenagers were listening to their pulsating R&B sound on colorful Bakelite radios, but by the early '70s, Drifters were heard on sophisticated and expensive stereos. But as the music evolved, so did the sound of The Drifters. Whether it's rhythm & blues, doo-wop, or soul-inspired beach music, The Drifters remained the quintessential pop/rock vocal group.
From Ahmet Ertegun's mouth, The Drifters are the greatest Atlantic group of all time. They are also the greatest beach music group of all time!
So what is beach music? Firstly, it isn't the Beach Boys or Jan & Dean. Beach music is primarily R&B dance music born of the juke joints and dance halls of the Carolinas (especially the beaches!). The dance is called the shag...you saw that great blockbuster movie, didn't you? Anyway, the beach music scene has a much deeper history and a brighter future than that movie portrayed.
The Drifters have been favorites of jukeboxes and venues for more than 40 years - no matter which group of Drifter's you saw or heard! That's a pretty stout claim, but their popularity is monstrous.
The Drifters with Clyde McPhatter and Bill Pinkney in the '50s scored high in the juke joints and tobacco warehouse shows of the South.
The "new" Drifters for the '60s, with their Latin beat and themes of "boardwalk" and "sand," seemed to fit perfectly the lifestyle of '60s beach music fans.
When The Drifters moved to England, they regained their '60s feel with the help of English producer/writers Tony Macaulay and Roger Greenaway.
While Charlie Thomas' Drifters of New York, which toured the Northeastern U.S. as a revival show, and Johnny Moore's Drifters of England have been relatively quiet for awhile, Bill Pinkney, the only surviving "original" Drifter, has been playing gigs and recording on a regular basis, and is probably on the road as I write this. He's even recorded a recent Drifters Christmas album.
The Drifters Hit Songlist
"There Goes My Baby" ('59 #1 R&B, #2 Pop)
"Dance With Me" ('59 #2 R&B, #15 Pop)
"(If You Cry) True Love, True Love" ('59 #33 Pop)
"This Magic Moment" ('60 #16 Pop)
"Save The Last Dance For Me" ('60 #1 R&B, #1 Pop)
"I Count The Tears" ('60 #17 Pop)
"Some Kind Of Wonderful" ('61 #32 Pop)
"Please Stay" ('61 # 14 Pop)
"Sweets For My Sweets" ('61 #16 Pop)
"When My Little Girl is Smiling" ('62 #28 Pop)
"Up On The Roof" ('62 #5 Pop)
"On Broadway" ('63 #9 Pop)
"I'll Take You Home" ('63 #25 Pop)
"Under The Boardwalk" ('64 #4 Pop)
"I've Got Sand In My Shoes" ('64 #33 Pop)
"Saturday Night At The Movies" ('64 #18 Pop)
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