There's a very good reason that Rolling Stone magazine, in their iconic issue "500 Greatest Rock and Roll Performers" said of the Drifters "No group has done it this well for this long--no one, not even the Rolling Stones." That's quite an accolade to live up to but hopefully, on their latest tour, the Drifters will once again prove Rolling Stone to be the sage of rock and roll.
Because, once again, the Drifters are on tour with a lineup of super talent revolving around performers who have had between them, over a century of making and recording the most meaningful songs in Rock and Roll.
Through their historic journey which began in the 1957, the Drifters have had no less than 5 legendary lead singers including Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Clyde McPhatter and Ben E. King. Such stalwart and famed individual lead singers as Charley Thomas, Bill Pinkney and Johnny Moore have passed through the group over the years, each recording their share of Drifters hits. And today, as has been the case for nearly 25 years, their star lead singer is Jerome Jackson who also performed as the lead singer for the Main Ingredient in the 1970s.
There are many "firsts" for the Drifters; they were the first group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with fellow inductees The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Supremes. Just reflect for a moment if you will, on that class of Rock and Roll stars that the Drifters were an integral part of. They were the first musical rock and roll group to include string instruments into rhythm and blues music with their hauntingly beautiful song, "There Goes My Baby". They were the first musical group to sell two million records with their pop classic "Up on the Roof". Their classic tune "Under the Boardwalk" is the most played R&B disc of all time. They have sold over 200 million records across the world; a feat that has only been outdone by Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones and Adele. They were part of the longest running sold out concert show in Las Vegas history. For fifteen years, every night along with the Platters and the Cornell Gunther Coasters, sold out first at the Sahara Hotel, then at the Hard Rock Caf'e and finally, at the Paris Hotel. No other show has come near that level of success anywhere.
Their performance last year for President Bush Senior, at his 90th birthday party, was the sixth president that the Drifters have performed for over the last 35 years from the Inaugural Balls of President Reagan, Clinton and Ford to President Nixon's birthday party and President Obama's daughter's graduation--when history is made, the Drifters have been part of the celebration.
When the Berlin Wall fell and Billy Joel was there to commemorate it, what act do you think was there to support him. If you guessed the Drifters, you would be right. When the US Government did their first official government sanctioned tour of Russia, Premier Gorbachev was there to greet them. They have performed for the Pope, the Queen of England, Nelson Mandella and toured for the USO in three different war zones from Korea to Iraq. And what about their wonderful songwriters and producers. Everyone from Leiber & Stoller, to Carole King, Jerry Goffen, Neal Diamond, Phil Spector have had a hand in writing hits for the Drifters.
And on their latest tour, as they move beyond their 50 year mark, with a lineup of veterans and new voices, they once again perpetuate the Drifters story. In their last tour, they sold out over 75 performing arts centers crisscrossing the country. And now they are gearing up for a monumental celebration of their hit song catalogue as they prepare their latest CD The Drifters Salute the Great American Songbook Live.