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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 15 November 1932Durham, North Carolina, USA
Date of Death 13 June 1972New York City, New York, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameClyde Lensley McPhatter

Mini Bio (1)

Clyde McPhatter was born in Durham, NC, on November 15, 1932, one of six children. The McPhatters moved to New York City in late 1950 and McPhatter,. after singing for a few years with gospel groups, joined Billy Ward's Dominoes.

The Dominoes signed with King Records in 1950 and recorded the chart-topping "Sixty Minute Man" with McPhatter singing the lead vocals. That song was the biggest R&B hit of 1951 and the first by a black group to cross over from the R&B to the pop charts. McPhatter stayed with the group for three years, singing such hits as "Have Mercy Baby", "The Bells," "I'd Be Satisfied". However, Ward had his name as top billing and collected all of the profits, while McPhatter wasn't earning enough to live on from the small amount of money that Ward paid him. Finally, in early 1953, McPhatter decided to quit.

Atlantic Records approached him with an offer to record his own group, eventually named The Drifters. As the group's leader McPhatter racked up a number of hits, beginning with "Money Honey"--which became the biggest R&B hit of 1954--"Such a Night," "Honey Love," "White Christmas" and "What'cha Gonna Do." McPhatter had already made a decision to leave The Drifters, as he saw himself moving toward a solo career. His voice was so dominant that it took five years for the Drifters to recover after he left.

In 1955, McPhatter recorded a duet for Atlantic Records with Ruth Brown on "Love Has Joined Us Together," which made number 8 on the R&B charts, and in August of that year he recorded "Seven Days," which became a number 2 R&B hit in 1956. In 1956 he scored with "Treasure of Love," which was his first solo chart-topper on the R&B and the pop charts. "Just to Hold My Hand" made the Top 10 on the R&B charts and "Long Lonely Nights" made the pop Top 30 in 1957.

In 1956 Atlantic released his singles as Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters. McPhatter saw his biggest hit on Atlantic in 1958 with "A Lover's Question," which was a top 10 smash on the pop charts and a #1 seller on the R&B listings. He had three more chart singles in 1959, none of which broke the Top 10.

He left Atlantic that year after one last hit, "Lovey Dovey", and had some minor hits in "I Told Myself a Lie" and "Think Me a Kiss" in 1960. He moved to Mercury Records and his career picked up again with the Top 10 single "Ta Ta," which was followed by the smash Top 10 pop single in 1962 with "Lover Please". It seemed that McPhatter was back on top. However, behind the scenes, he was dealing with alcoholism and unreliability and his career started to spiral down.

Over the next few years he recorded for several smaller labels but was unable to get a hit or keep his performing career going. McPhatter moved to England. In the early 1960s he found work in British clubs for a few years until the same personal problems began to haunt him. He returned to the U.S. in the early 1970s, and signed with Decca Records. He recorded the album "Welcome Home", which was his final attempt at a comeback. It was too late for McPhatter, however, both professionally and personally, as alcoholism, depression and personal problems ended with a fatal heart attack in New York in 1972

- IMDb Mini Biography By: MIchael Z. Gordon (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Trivia (8)

Was one of the performers featured on a set of stamps of rock and blues legends issued by the U.S. Postal Service in June 1993.
Lead singer of Billy Ward's Dominoes (aka Billy Ward & The Dominoes) from 1950-1953.
Founded The Drifters and was lead singer from 1953-1955.
Was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1955, was released in 1957.
Went solo before his army hitch was up and had several hits including "Seven Days", "Without Love (There Is Nothing)", "Long, Lonely Nights", "Treasure pf Love" and "Lover Please".
Elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of The Drifters) in 1988.
His election to the Hall in 1987 was as a solo artist.
Father of Ronn David McPhatter. He and the boy's mother, singer Ruth Brown, were not married when he was born.

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