There were over 60 members of the drifters and their membership overlaps and recurs throughout the existence of the quartet, making an accurate timeline of members would be extremely hard to delineate. There have also been various groups calling themselves variations of "The Drifters" over the years, often featuring one or two members that were with the group at some point.
During the recording of the bands classic hit, "Under The Boardwalk
," lead singer Rudy Lewis died, unexpectedly of a heroin overdose. Rather than stop the sessions to find a new singer, they brought in longtime member Johnny Moore to sing lead on the song. The end result wasn't just one song, but two different versions of the same song. There are subtle differences in the lyrics. For example, the first version contains the lyric, "we'll be falling in love" but the second version contains that lyric in addition to, "we'll be making love." These are two separate versions, not just re-edits of the same song.musician on The Drifters albums.
The family of original manager, Clyde Treadwell, managed the later lineup of The Drifters. Clyde Treadwell bought original member Clyde McPhatter's share of The Drifters in 1954 and became the sole owner. Since Treadwell's death, his family has managed the affairs of the band. First, his wife, Faye, then their daughter Tina both managed the quartet.
Before managing The Drifters, Tina Treadwell was the Vice President of Talent and Alternative Programming at Disney Channel. She is responsible for nurturing the careers of acts like NSYNC, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
Described as "one of the most significant figures in the modern recording industry," Ahmet Ertegun was responsible for the original, Clyde McPhatter-led Drifters. Under an agreement between Ertegun and McPhatter, McPhatter could assemble a group of his own. In doing so, McPhatter enlisted four out of the five members of his church group, the Mount Lebanon Singers. Those members included William "Chick" Anderson, David Baldwin, James "Wrinkle" Johnson, and David "Little Dave" Baughan. Ertegun wasn't sure of the first lineup and advised McPhatter to make some changes. The second effort included Gerhart Thrasher, Andrew Thrasher (both formerly of the gospel group the "Thrasher Wonders"), Bill Pinkney, Willie Ferbee, and Walter Adams on guitar.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted The Drifters in 1988. Members Clyde McPhatter, Bill Pinkney, Gerhardt Thrasher, Johnny Moore, Ben E. King, Charlie Thomas, and Rudy Lewis were all named. Bill Pinkney, Charlie Thomas, and Johnny Moore all received Pioneer Awards from the Rhythm & Blues Foundation in 1999.
The recording of The Drifters classic, "There Goes My Baby
," pioneered the concept of using strings and high production value to enhance the emotional aspect of R&B music. Later on, Phil Spector would study these same production processes while working as a musician on The Drifters albums.