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Sean Hampsey

Bill Pinkney Rip

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The Music Industry lost a pioneer on July 4th, 2007. Bill Pinkney, the last standing member of the Original Drifters, was found dead in his hotel, The Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, in Florida. Mr. Pinkney was scheduled to perform later that night for U.S. Independence Day Festivities.

His manager stated that he had been suffering from a heart condition but it was too early to say that he died of a heart attack. Police officials said there was no evidence of foul play. Mr. Pinkney was 81.

Mr. Pinkney was a WWII veteran and a former pitcher for The New York Blue Sox of The Negro Baseball League. He was the only surviving member of the group that was formed in 1953. The Drifters, including Mr. Pinkney, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1988.

I'm sure many of us on here were introduced to this incredible genre of music via the sounds of the Drifters.

Rest In Peace Bill Pinkney!

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The Music Industry lost a pioneer on July 4th, 2007. Bill Pinkney, the last standing member of the Original Drifters, was found dead in his hotel, The Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, in Florida. Mr. Pinkney was scheduled to perform later that night for U.S. Independence Day Festivities.

His manager stated that he had been suffering from a heart condition but it was too early to say that he died of a heart attack. Police officials said there was no evidence of foul play. Mr. Pinkney was 81.

Mr. Pinkney was a WWII veteran and a former pitcher for The New York Blue Sox of The Negro Baseball League. He was the only surviving member of the group that was formed in 1953. The Drifters, including Mr. Pinkney, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1988.

I'm sure many of us on here were introduced to this incredible genre of music via the sounds of the Drifters.

Rest In Peace Bill Pinkney!

Very Sad News

R.I.P.

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Obituary from today's Times:

Bill Pinkney was the last surviving member of the original Drifters, and his deep bass voice graced such chart-topping 1950s hits as White Christmas and Honey Love. A bitter legal battle over ownership of the group's name in the mid1950s led to the entire lineup being sacked and replaced by a new group who recorded with great success as the Drifters throughout the late 1950s and 1960s. Pinkney, however, fought back and established the right to call his group the Original Drifters. He was still performing with them when he died.

Born in Dalzell, South Carolina, in 1925, he began singing in church as a boy but gospel music found strong competition from baseball as he was growing up. After wartime service in the US Army, during which he earned several medals, he moved to New York and had a spell as pitcher for the Blue Sox baseball team. He was also singing part-time in a gospel group and in 1949 met Clyde McPhatter, the singer with the Dominoes. The two became friends and after the Dominoes broke up in 1953 McPhatter approached him and the brothers Gearhart and Andrew Thrasher to form an R&B vocal group.

They were signed by Ahmet Erteg¼n to Atlantic Records as Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters. On their first recordings Pinkney sang in a high tenor above McPhatter's lead with Willie Ferbee singing the bass part, and it was this lineup which recorded the group's first big hit, Money Honey in 1953.

Soon afterwards Ferbee was involved in an accident and left the group. He was not replaced, and the versatile Pinkney shifted down to bass. The quartet had a string of hits over the next year, including Such a Night, Honey Love, Bip Bam, What'cha Gonna Do and White Christmas. The last was the group's biggest-selling record and featured Pinkney as lead vocalist.

In May 1954 McPhatter was drafted into the US Army and sold his controlling share of the group to George Treadwell, the manager. It proved to be a fateful decision and one which would embroil the Drifters and the group's various members and rival lineups in legal battles that were still keeping the lawyers active half a century later.

McPhatter was replaced first by David Baughan and then by Johnny Moore of the Hornets, and the hits continued throughout 1955 with Adorable, Ruby Baby, Fools Fall in Love and I Gotta Get Myself a Woman. The latter song was the first fruit of the the long association between the Drifters and the songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller who went on to write such Drifters hits as Saturday Night at the Movies and Save the Last Dance for Me - although by then the group had a different line-up.

After McPhatter, Pinkney was the first to go, unceremoniously sacked by Treadwell in 1957 when he asked for more money. Andrew Thrasher left in protest, and Pinkney formed another group, the Flyers, with Bobby Hendricks as the lead singer. In May 1958 Treadwell sacked the entire lineup, including the sole original member, Gerhart Thrasher. Claiming legal ownership of the group's name, Treadwell recruited another vocal group, the Five Crowns with lead singer Ben E. King, and renamed them the Drifters.

Pinkney recruited the other sacked members and they began touring as the Original Drifters (although they also recorded briefly as the Harmony Grits). A bewildering set of personnel changes ensued throughout the 1960s with Pinkney and Gerhart Thrasher as the only constants. Pinkney continued to tour with different lineups as the Original Drifters for the rest of his life and was about to perform in an American Independence Day concert when he suffered a heart attack.

Bill Pinkney, singer, was born on August 15, 1925. He died on July 4, 2007, aged 81

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