The last member of The Drifters’ 1953 original recording/touring line-up, the late DR. BILL PINKNEY is in the Vocal Group, United Group Harmony, Beach Music, Doo Wop, and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.
The first release by The Drifters was “Money Honey,” now in the Grammy Hall of Fame. Reputed to be the all-time best selling Drifters song, Bill Pinkney sings bass lead on their 1954 version of the Irving Berlin classic “White Christmas.” It gained new generations of fans after being featured in the blockbuster movie “Home Alone” and many others.
Music’s Drifters represent more than the story of a single group’s success. Changes in personnel and management have led over the years to the sprouting of many Drifters permutations, but BILL PINKNEY used the name / mark THE ORIGINAL DRIFTERS® since the 1950s, and his legacy continues.
Organizer Clyde McPhatter (Mount Lebanon Gospel Singers), BILL PINKNEY (The Southern Knights), and Gerhardt and Andrew Thrasher (The Thrasher Wonders) met while singing gospel. When Atlantic Records rejected McPhatter’s first group, these men joined forces, signed with the company, and established in 1953 the foundation upon which a music legacy was subsequently built. Thirty five years later in 1988, original members MCPHATTER, PINKNEY, GERHART THRASHER and four later Drifters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which filmed PINKNEY’s oral history in 2001 for its Legends Series.
Music Icon BILL PINKNEY was a Negro Baseball League sandlot pitcher, a World War II Presidential Citation recipient with five Bronze Stars (including Normandy and Bastogne), a Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer, a member of the United Group Harmony Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame, Beach Music Hall of Fame, and a Gospel Hall of Fame Stellar Award recipient.
South Carolina dedicated Bill Pinkney Highway, a park near his Dalzell, Sumter County birthplace, bestowed the Order of the Palmetto, its highest civilian honor, and commissioned him the State’s “Ambassador of Music and Entertainment”. Coastal Carolina University bestowed an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.