The Drifters Legends
D Legends are made up of some of the most prestigious former members of the line up from the different eras of the group's history including , Butch Leake Clyde Brown and Joe Blunt, who all performed or recorded on some of the group's biggest hits respectively during the the Bell / Arista period in the, 70's and 80's. The Legends appeared as very special guests to the current line up of The Drifters at a historic event at London’s O2 Arena in 2009, which was promoted by Kennedy Street Enterprises. Lifetime achievement awards were presented to D. Legends Joe Blunt and Butch Leake in recognition of the success of the group during the 1970’s on the Bell Arista label.It was early 1970 when The Drifters managed by Faye Treadwell, widow to the legendary George Treadwell left Atlantic Records, which had been the home of the group during the earlier years of success, and moved to Bell Records (Now known as Arista Records as part of Sony BMG). The Drifters lineup now consisted of what became known as the classic group of the seventies. This line up featuring Butch went on to record four hugely successful albums and this era became known as the third 'Golden Period' of the Drifters legacy.During his time as a second tenor and baritone with the Drifters, Butch helped record the memorable hits 'Down on the Beach Tonight', 'Kissing in the Back Row of the Movies', 'Love Games' and 'There Goes My First Love', which topped the British and European charts in the early seventies. Every story has it's beginning so it was with the Drifters and it's rise from gospel roots on through rhythm and blues. The Drifters can also claim a unique place in popular music history as a major R & B group founded at the calling of a record label chief.
Ahmet Ertegün (/ˈɑːmɛtˈɛrtəɡən/), Turkish pronunciation: [ahˈmet eɾteˈɟyn]; July 31 [O.S. 18 July] 1923 – December 14, 2006) was a Turkish American musician and businessman, best known as the founder and president of Atlantic Records, as a leader of the 1950's Rhythm & Blues revolution, and for discovering or championing artists like Eric Clapton; Phil Collins; Genesis; The Rolling Stones; Led Zeppelin; Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; Aretha Franklin; Ray Charles; Yes; Frank Zappa; and more. In 1946, Ahmet Ertegun became friends with Herb Abramson, a dental student and A&R man for National Records, and they decided to start a new independent record label for the gospel, jazz, and R&B music.
In 1949, after 22 unsuccessful record releases including the first recordings by Professor Longhair, Atlantic had its first major hit with Stick McGhee's "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee". The company expanded through the 1950s, with Jerry Wexler and, later, Nesuhi Ertegun on board as partners, and with hit artists including Ruth Brown, Joe Turner, The Clovers, The Drifters, The Coasters, and Ray Charles. Many independent record executives, like the Erteguns, were from immigrant backgrounds, including the Bihari brothers and the Chess brothers. The Ertegun brothers brought a jazz sensibility (and many jazz artists) into R&B, successfully combining blues and jazz styles from around the country. Atlantic helped challenge the primacy of the major labels of the time by discovering, developing, and nurturing new talent. It became the premier rhythm and blues label in a few short years, and, with the help of innovative engineer/producer Tom Dowd, set new standards in producing high-quality recordings. In 1957, Atlantic was among the first labels to record in stereo, and, in 1958, introduced 4-track and later, 8 tracks of taped multitrack recording....
The Drifters / A Unique Club
There is much criticism and mis-understanding about the status of the Drifters the organization and what it's trying to do now that we have reached the 60th Anniversary of it's existence. There are those who just will not wake up to the reality that many of the members of yesteryear are no longer with us and much of the work that these men did in creating the Drifter Legend is part of history and will always be honored.
The Drifters as a hold has always been a brand since Clyde McPhatter sold his stake in the name back in the early 50's to George Treadwell.
Though we all have our favorite Drifter groups and have our personal preferences as far as the individual members, the organization now has become an institution and the preservation of history an distribution of that history to a new generation of fans an people, in general, is the real criteria and ultimate purpose in this new millennium.
Yes, there has been much controversy about who are the Drifters, who should be a Drifter, who are the better Drifters etc. but one thing for sure the Drifters or meaning that of the name, it was Treadwell and if you didn't come through that family tree historically you do not count.
Now there are other criteria as far as the music industry is concerned and not knocking others who have served in one capacity or the other their historical contributions will be duly noted.
The recording has become one of the main standards on who is real and who isn't. You should have at least sung on one song or more in any musical band and that sets up who is legitimate and who's not.
The Drifters is Unique in that there has been more than 60-65 personnel who came through its lineup over the years. Obviously, there are those who are significant and then there are those who haven't made it to the footnote in its history.
This meaning they never recorded, never made it to any of the media that is around such as television, magazines, books, newspapers etc.
The Drifters have a long and extensive musical catalog and the reality the members did not record on all those songs with the exception of legendary members like Johnny Moore who sang lead on many of The Drifters greatest hits and holds the title as the longest-serving member of this unique club.
So those of you out there who have some problem with the current generation of Drifters remember they are trying to carry on the Drifter Legacy like us older member here that form The Drifters Legends. We are all dedicated to carry on and distribute that illustrious history......Butch Leake