Today is the 60th birthday of Bobby Hendricks, former vocalist for the
Drifters. The Drifters helped give birth to soul music by applying
gospel-style vocals to such legendary songs as "Money Honey," "This Magic Moment"
and "Save The Last Dance For Me," among others. Though doo-wop and soul
probably would have hit without them, their songs, choreography and
ability to remain popular despite a continually revolving lineup were
a tremendous influence on everyone from such Motown acts as the
Temptations to Philly soul artists such as Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes to current
artists such as Boyz II Men, Jodeci and Dru Hill. The
group came together when vocalist Clyde McPhatter parted ways with Billy
Ward and His Dominoes in 1953 and formed his own group at the encouragement
of Atlantic Records' Ahmet Ertegun. McPhatter found his first set of
vocalists singing in the choir at Harlem's Mount Lebanon Church in New York, and the
group soon dubbed themselves the Drifters, naming themselves after a bird.
The group instantly became regular residents at the top of the R&B charts,
hitting with "Money Honey," "Such A Night" and "White Christmas," among
others. McPhatter became the first of many to leave the Drifters when he
was drafted into the Army in 1954.
Johnny Moore soon took McPhatter's place, but the hits no longer
came quite as naturally to the group. Birthday boy Hendricks joined the
Drifters in 1957, a period of time when the group's morale was at an all-time
low. In 1958, the Drifters disbanded but soon sprang back to life with all
new members, including Ben E. King, the man who would go on to solo fame
with "Stand By Me." This new version of the Drifters was also responsible
for many of R&B's classic hits, including "There Goes My Baby," "This Magic
Moment," "Save The Last Dance for Me" and "Up On The Roof," among others.
The group continued going through a litany of lineup changes over the
years and eventually became a shell of a group for which promoters could
license the name and plug-in any singers they pleased. The Drifters were
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.