fbpx
Home » blog » The Drifters Drift on Forever
Doo Wop

The Drifters Drift on Forever

The Drifters seem to be more of a brand and franchise than a band. The Wikipedia profile says that the group, which it defines as having its (many) feet in doo-wop, R&B and soul, was formed in 1953. Rolling Stone – which named The Drifters the 81st greatest artist/band of the rock and roll era – called it “the least stable” because members were low paid and, presumably, quickly shuffled in and other.

The Drifters were put together by George Treadwell to back Clyde McPhatter. Eventually, the group – which still exists – went through 60 vocalists. That is just in the “Treadwell line.” There have been knock-offs by ex-members, all of which have their own line of vocalists.

The profile says that the two main versions backed McPhatter and Ben. E. King. They each are in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame addressed the situation with Solomon-like wisdom: The hall includes four “classic” (McPhatter) Drifters, two King Drifters and one post-Treadwell Drifter.

All of these Drifters drifting around meant, of course, that there is a lot of confusion and at least one lawsuit (by Treadwell heirs in the U.K.). The profile does an admirable of separating out the versions.

Some of the classic Drifters songs are “Ruby Baby,” “There Goes My Baby,” “This Magic Moment,” “Stand by Me,” “Save the Last Dance for Me” and “Up on the Roof.” They presumably all are from the McPhatter Drifters, but I am not smart or patient enough to figure it out. Geniuses such as Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Gerry Goffin, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman contributed songs.

Above is “Saturday Night at the Movies” (Mann/Weil) and below is “Up on the Roof” (Goffin/King).

Wikipedia and Rolling Stone were used to write this post.

Sign Up for TDMB Daily Email Blasts

TDMB offers daily one-video email blasts. A different genre each day of the week. They are quick hits: Just great music and a bit of context.

Sign up below or, for more info, click here.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Also of Interest

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

🎼🎺🎻🎹🎷🎶🎵


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

🎼🎺🎻🎹🎷🎶🎵

The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.