Hello, Clyde McPhatter was born on November 15, 1932 in Durham, North Carolina. He was signed by Billy Ward for the Dominoes in 1950. He left the Dominoes in 1953 to form his own group, Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters. In 1950 he won “Amateur Night” at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. He was with Billy Ward & The Dominoes when they recorded their classic SIXTY MINUTE MAN on Federal Records, a record some regard as the first rock and roll record. In late 1954 he was drafted into the Army and assigned to Special Services in the USA. He continued to record while in the Army, after his tour of duty, he left The Drifters to begin a solo career.
His first solo recording became an R&B hit when it made its debut on December 3, 1955. The record was a duet with Ruth Brown and was on Atlantic Records, LOVE HAS JOINED US TOGETHER became a #8 hit record, Clyde was on his way to a long and very successful solo career. His next smash hit charted just a month later on January 7, 1956 SEVEN DAY featured Clyde solo and reached #2 on the Billboard R&B chart. It was also his first solo pop hit, charting at #44 on the Billboard Top 100.
Hit after hit, Clyde McPhatter was a regular on the Pop and R&B charts. His first #1 record was TREASURE OF LOVE in 1956 on the R&B chart and a #16 Top 100 hit. He had three Top 10 R&B hits in 1957…WITHOUT LOVE (There Is Nothing) #4 R&B, #19 Pop…JUST TO HOLD MY HAND #6 R&B, #26 Pop and LONG LONELY NIGHTS #1 R&B, #49 Pop. In 1958 he charted COME WHAT MAY #3 R&B and #43 Pop.
His next hit in 1958 became his biggest hit. Making its Billboard Hot 100 debut on October 6, 1958, A LOVER’S QUESTION, written by Brook Benton and Clyde Otis became a huge hit climbing to #6 and remaining on the Hot 100 for 24 weeks, that is a long time for a single record in the 1950’s and 1960’s to be on the chart. The single became a #1 hit on the Billboard R&B chart and remained on the chart for 23 weeks.
Clyde would continue charting hits for Atlantic Records into 1959. He signed to record with MGM Records and charted a few singles for that label. In July of 1960 he was recording for Mercury Records and charted a Top 10 R&B hit, TA TA. The single charted at #7 on the R&B chart and peaked at #23 on the Hot 100. In 1962 Clyde would record his last Top 10, Hot 100 hit. In March of 1962, LOVER PLEASE would begin its climb up the Hot 100, peaking at #7. Strangely, the single never charted on the R&B chart. In 1964 his last Top 10 R&B hit began its run on the Billboard chart, peaking at #10 and at #90 on the Hot 100.
In 1968 he moved to England, where he was still very popular. He returned to America in 1970 making a few appearances on oldies tours. He was working on a new album for Decca Records…when he died in his sleep in June of 1972, from complications of heart, liver and kidney disease…he was 39 years old.
Clyde McPhatter was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The original Drifters were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. The United States Postal Service issued a stamp in his honor in 1993. His recording with The Drifters, MONEY HONEY (1953) was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. His very distinctive voice is considered one of the most influential male voices of the early R&B vocal group era. Clyde McPhatter…lives on in the hearts and minds of his countless fans, through his music…that lives on, in the “Golden Era Of Rock And Roll”.