From that day forward, all of the members of the Drifters were salaried employees, earning as little as $100 a week even into the early ’60s, and getting no share of royalties from record sales, no benefits from the concert fees they commanded, nor any claim to the use of the name “the Drifters” if they left, no matter how successful the group
Members. They appeared on the PBS special, Doo Wop 51 with Pinkney, Dunbar, Johnson, and Bobby Hendricks. The current lineup is Pinkney, Cockerham, Dunbar, Young, and Clyde McPhatter’s son, Billy McPhatter. Greg Johnson is now in Bobby Hendricks’ Drifters.
Bill Pinkney, the last survivor of the original members of the The Drifters, died yesterday (July 4). He was 81. Pinkney, born in Dalzell, S.C., was a World War II veteran and pitched for the New York Blue Sox of the Negro Baseball League in the late 1940s and early ’50s. He wasn’t with the Drifters when they recorded their biggest hits.
Some members of the group started a new group under the name The Original Drifters (inducted into the Vocal Hall of Fame in 1998), but The Drifters continued on with a whole new lineup that included Ben E. King, Charlie Thomas, Dock Green, Elsbeary Hobbs.
In 1988 the Rockhall inducted the seven significant contributors to The Drifters’ legacy – originals Clyde McPhatter, Bill Pinkney, and Gerhart Thrasher, and subsequent members Johnny Moore, Ben E. King, Rudy Lewis, and Charlie Thomas – the recognized Drifters. Perhaps Steve Leggett said it best.