Last week Colleen and I had the pleasure of attending a Coasters, Platters and Drifters concert at the Alabama Theatre here in N. Myrtle Beach.
It was a night unlike others that we will fondly remember for quite some time especially now given this untimely news.
Performing for us that evening and circulating into the crowd singing his heart out was Bill Pinkney, the last living member of the Drifters.
After the Drifters had finished playing, Bill and 2 other companions made their way from back stage and up the ramp in the theater, past our immediate left as we were on an end seat, in order to sign autographs. I saw his face closely enough to see a man filled with appreciation for his fans at 81 years old who walked with a degree of briskness in his step. He waved and smiled as he passed us and I won't forget that for a long time.
Bill Pinkney, Last Survivor of the Original Members of The Drifters, Dies in US at 81
The Associated Press
Published: July 5, 2007
-- Florida: Bill Pinkney, the last survivor of the original members of the musical group The Drifters, has died. He was 81.
Pinkney was found dead Wednesday at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, Daytona Beach Police spokesman Jimmie Flynt said. The death was not considered suspicious, he said.
Pinkney was scheduled to perform for U.S. Independence Day festivities there.
Bill Pinkney - 8/05
The Drifters, whose hits include "Under the Boardwalk," "Up on the Roof," and "Save the Last Dance For Me," still performed Wednesday night. An announcement about Pinkney's death was made after the show, said the group's publicist, Donnie Lowery.
Pinkney, born in Dalzell, South Carolina, was not with The Drifters when they recorded their biggest hits. He left in the band in 1958 because of an argument over cash. His distinctive bass voice can be heard on the group's version of the holiday classic "White Christmas."
Even though he left the group, Pinkney didn't let go of The Drifters' name. He fought for laws allowing performers or bands to claim an affiliation with a classic group like The Drifters or The Coasters only if at least one member recorded with the original group.
The Drifters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
Pinkney was a World War II veteran and pitched for the New York Blue Sox of the Negro Baseball League in the late 1940s and early '50s.
While in the service of our country, it was reported this morning on our local CBS affilaite that Bill earned 5 bronze stars.
White Christmas from the Movie "Home Alone"