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Saturday night at the Cali with the Drifters

The Drifters at the Cali

The Drifters at the Cali

The Drifters, the vocal group with just about the most complicated history of anyone in show business, had already been concert stars for around 20 years when they appeared at Dunstable’s California Ballroom in 1973.

The group, whose story involved splinter groups, legal actions and numerous lowly-paid artistes drifting in and out of the line-up, has had close to 70 different lead singers in its time, so the question is: Who is featured in this Gazette photo, taken either on June 16 or July 7.

Denis O’Donoghue, a huge Cali R enthusiast, believes that it shows Bill Fredericks with mic in hand and Grant Kitchings close to the camera.

The other two members of the group would have been Johnny Moore, a veteran of the Drifters back to the ‘50s, and Butch Leake.

In 1973 the Drifters were having an upswing in fortune, with six or seven top ten hits in the United Kingdom, to which they had moved following the end of their Atlantic Records contract in the US.

Denis, incidentally, saw a band called The Original Drifters at the Cali in the 1960s where the lead singer was Bill Pinkney, the last remaining member of the classic line-up but who wasn’t actually an original member!

> Yesteryear is compiled by John Buckledee, chairman of Dunstable and District Local History Society.

 

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