With more than 65 vocalists and 60 years of recording and performing music, it’s all about the history with The Drifters.
And the group has played an important part in the personal history of current member Michael Williams as well.
“I’ve always been a Drifters fan,“ says the Alabama-born singer who has with the group for almost ten years, “and my parents are big, big fans. They used to love Clyde McPhatter, the original Drifter, and we all used to sing along at home.“
Michael was spotted singing in a club in New York in the 1990s by Tina Treadwell, the daughter of George Treadwell, the group’s former manager who owned the Drifters name, and spent a year as an understudy before becoming a full member. The group tours extensively every year and regularly records new music, as well as belting out classics such as Under the Boardwalk, Saturday Night at the Movies, Kissing in the Back Row, Come on Over to My Place and More Than a Number in My Little Red Book.
“I have a big family that I miss all the time, being out on the road,“ says Michael, who now lives in New York. “It’s tough sometimes, I don’t get to see them a lot of the time.
“But my mom and dad, Ansel and Valerie, try and come down when we’re performing in the States whenever they can. They’re proud of their son, I guess. It’s great to know your parents are big fans of The Drifters and now you’re part of the legacy. It’s a great feeling for me to say, ‘Hey mom and dad, look what your son achieved’, you know? It’s a good vibe, a good feeling, I’m very proud of that.“
Growing up in Alabama, Michael and his parents and siblings danced and sang along to the band’s early classics, such as Up on the Roof and On Broadway.
“Their favourite is probably Under the Boardwalk,“ says Michael, “they love seeing us perform that.“
Michael will sing with his fellow members Ryan King, Carlton Powell and Pierre Herelle on the Optimum Tour.
“It’s a bit of everything,“ Michael reveals, “so all of the classic songs are in there as well as some brand new songs that the fellas and I have recorded. This is the ‘best of’, it’s going to be fantastic.“
The Drifters’ Optimum Tour play The Beck Theatre, Grange Road, Hayes on Sunday, April 27 at 7.30pm.
Details: 020 8561 8371, becktheatre.org.uk