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Johnny Moore

Unknown  Cause  of Death
Dec. 30, 1998
Age 64
 
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Drifters




 

 
 
 
 

OBITUARY 
  
The Drifters' Johnny Moore dies at 64  

Johnny Moore, lead singer with the Drifters died suddenly on December 30th, in London, at the age of 64, whilst on the way to hospital. Longest serving member of the legendary vocal group, Moore joined the group in New York in 1955, at age 21, and became the lead singer in 1964 when Rudy Lewis died of a suspected drug overdose. His first recording as lead singer was one of their most renowned recordings, 'Under The Boardwalk', recorded the day after Lewis died. The track featured a young Phil Spector on lead guitar. 

The Drifters were originally formed around the vocal talents of Clyde McPhatter and later Ben E King who both went on to successful solo careers. Moore had a string of hits with the group in the sixties, most notably 'Saturday Night At The Movies', 'Up On The Roof', 'Come On Over To My Place', 'At The Club' and 'Up In The Streets Of Harlem', but by 1970 their close-harmony sound had been replaced by the likes of harder-edged performers like James Brown and Wilson Pickett, and the group's sales depleted. 

However, under the guidance of the group's manager and founder, George Treadwell, they moved to England, signed to Bell Records, and had a string of poppier-sounding hits including 'Kissing In The Back Row', There Goes My First Love' and 'You're More Than A Number In My Little Red Book', all written by leading songwriters, Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook.  

In the mid-eighties Ben E King rejoined the group for live appearances, all over world, with Moore and King sharing the lead vocals. The Drifters are still managed today by Treadwell's widow, Faye, but have for some time been dogged by competition, on the live circuit, from 'The Original Drifters', a group sporting most of the original members of the '50's line-up.  

BigMouth
 
LONDON (AP) -- Johnny Moore, lead singer for The Drifters on their 1960s hit ``Under The Boardwalk,'' died Wednesday at 64. The cause of death was not given.  

The Drifters were formed in 1953 and still toured, but there have been a number of changes in the group's personnel.  

Moore joined in 1954. He and the entire group were fired four years later in a dispute with the group's manager.  

A completely new group was formed and Moore was rehired in 1961 after a stint of military service.  He joined lead singer Rudy Lewis on such hits as ``Up on The Roof'' and ``On Broadway.''  

When Lewis died in 1964, Moore became lead singer with ``Under the Boardwalk,'' the group's last big hit. When their American success declined in the 1970s, The Drifters found popularity in Britain. 

 
 
 
Drifters singer Johnny Moore dies at 64

LONDON, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Johnny Moore, veteran singer with the American soul group the Drifters, died suddenly on his way to hospital  in London Wednesday, his agent said. He was 64.

The Alabama native was lead vocalist on Drifters hits such as ``Under The Boardwalk,'' ``Saturday Night At The Movies'' and ``Kissin' In The Back Row Of The Movies'' in the 1960s and 1970s.

Moore, who had been suffering from breathing difficulties, was last seen on stage in Britain when he appeared on television just before Christmas, performing ``Come On Over To My Place.''

 
 
 
       
 

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BIOGRAPHY
Born in Selma, AL, in 1934, Moore joined The
  Drifters in 1954, a year after the group was formed. ~JamMusic
 
 
 
The Drifters
 
Formed in 1953 in New York, USA, at the behest of Atlantic Records, this influential R&B vocal group was initially envisaged as a vehicle for ex-Dominoes’ singer, Clyde McPhatter.  Gerhart Thrasher, Andrew Thrasher and Bill Pinkney completed the new quartet which, as Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters, scored a number 1 R&B hit with their debut single, Money Honey. 

Follow-up releases, including Such A Night, Lucille and Honey Love (a second chart-topper), also proved highly successful, while the juxtaposition of McPhatter's soaring tenor against the frenzied support of the other members provided a link between gospel and rock ‘n’ roll styles. The leader's interplay with bassist Pinkney breathed new life into White Christmas, the group's sixth R&B hit, but McPhatter's induction into the armed forces in 1954 was a blow the Drifters struggled to withstand.  

The vocalist opted for a solo career upon leaving the services, and although his former group did enjoy success with Adorable (number 1 R&B 1955), Steamboat (1955), Ruby Baby (1956) and Fools Fall In Love (1957), such recordings featured a variety of lead singers, including David Baughn and Johnny Moore. A greater emphasis on pop material ensued, but tension between the group and manager, George Treadwell, resulted in an irrevocable split. Having fired the extant line-up in 1958, Treadwell, who owned the copyright to the Drifters’ name, invited another act, The Five Crowns, to adopt the appellation. Ben E. King (tenor), Charlie Thomas (tenor), Doc Green Jr. (baritone) and Elsbury Hobbs (bass), plus guitarist Reggie Kimber, duly became ‘the Drifters’, and declared their newfound role with There Goes My Baby.  

Written and produced by Leiber And Stoller, this pioneering release contained a Latin rhythm and string section, the first time such embellishments had appeared on an R&B recording. The single not only topped the R&B chart, it also reached number 2 on the US pop listings, and anticipated the ‘symphonic’ style later developed by Phil Spector.

Further excellent releases followed, notably Dance With Me (1959), This Magic Moment (1960) and Save The Last Dance For Me, the last-named of which topped the US pop chart and reached number 2 in the UK. However, King left for a solo career following I Count The Tears (1960), and was replaced by Rudy Lewis, who fronted the group until his premature death in 1964.

The Drifters continued to enjoy hits during this period and songs such as Sweets For My Sweet, When My Little Girl Is Smiling, Up On The Roof and On Broadway were not only entertaining in their own right, but also provided inspiration, and material, for many emergent British acts, notably the Searchers, who took the first-named song to the top of the UK chart. Johnny Moore, who had returned to the line-up in 1963, took over the lead vocal slot from Lewis. Under The Boardwalk, recorded the day after the latter's passing, was the Drifters’ last US Top 10 pop hit, although the group remained a popular attraction. Bert Berns had taken over production from Leiber and Stoller, and in doing so brought a soul-based urgency to their work, as evinced by One Way Love and Saturday Night At The Movies (1964).  

When he left Atlantic to found the Bang label, the Drifters found themselves increasingly overshadowed by newer, more contemporary artists and, bedeviled by lesser material and frequent changes in personnel, the group began to slip from prominence. However their career was revitalized in 1972 when two re-released singles, At The Club and Come On Over To My Place, reached the UK Top 10. 

A new recording deal with Bell was then secured and British songwriters/producers Tony Macauley, Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway fashioned a series of singles redolent of the Drifters’ ‘classic’ era. Purists poured scorn on their efforts, but, between 1973 and 1975, the group, still led by Moore, enjoyed six UK Top 10 hits, including Come On Over To My Place, Kissin In The Back Row Of The Movies’, Down On The Beach Tonight and There Goes My First Love.  

This success ultimately waned as the decade progressed, and in 1982 Moore left the line-up. He was replaced, paradoxically, by Ben E. King who in turn brought the Drifters back to Atlantic. However, despite completing some new recordings, the group found it impossible to escape its heritage, as evinced by the numerous ‘hits’ repackages and corresponding live appearances on the cabaret and nostalgia circuits.    

 
 
Music Central '96
 

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 LINKS
  
 
http://originaldrifters.com/
 
http://www.history-of-rock.com/drifters.htm
 
 
 

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