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Clyde McPhatter
Birth name Clyde Lensley McPhatter[1]
Born November 15, 1932(1932-11-15)
Durham, North Carolina USA
Died June 13, 1972 (aged 39)
Teaneck, New Jersey USA
Genres R&B, soul, pop
Occupations Singer
Years active 1950 - 1972
Associated acts Billy Ward & the Dominoes, The Drifters, The Shirelles

Clyde McPhatter (November 15, 1932 ‚Äď June 13, 1972) was an American R&B singer.


Life and career

McPhatter was raised in a religious Baptist family, the son of Rev. George McPhatter and wife Beulah (though some accounts refer to her as Eva), and sang in his father's church choir gospel along with his sbiblings in 1945 after his family moved to New Jersey. They soon relocated to New York City, and McPhatter formed the gospel group The Mount Lebanon Singers.[2]

In 1950, after winning "Amateur Night" at Harlem's Apollo Theater, McPhatter was recruited by Billy Ward & the Dominoes, and was present for the recording of "Sixty Minute Man" for Federal Records and produced by Ralph Bass. After recording several more songs, including "Have Mercy Baby" and "The Bells", McPhatter quit the group in 1953. Before leaving The Dominoes, he was asked by Billy Ward to coach the group's replacement lead tenor. A young Jackie Wilson took over as The Dominoes' lead tenor. McPhatter then signed to Atlantic Records on the condition that he form his own group. Clyde promptly assembled a group and called them The Drifters, who released "Money Honey", "Such a Night", "Honey Love", "White Christmas" and "Whatcha Gonna Do".

In 1954, McPhatter was drafted but was assigned to Special Services in the continental United States, allowing him to continue recording. After his tour of duty was up, he left The Drifters and launched a solo career. His first solo hit occurred just after being discharged - "Love Has Joined Us Together" (with Ruth Brown). He released several R&B recordings in the next few years, with the Brook Benton-penned song "A Lover's Question", which made it to #6 in 1958. In 1962 the song "Lover Please" written by country artist Billy Swan was released. His 1956 recording "Treasure of Love" saw his first solo #1 on the R&B charts and one week in the UK Singles Chart. It reached #16 on the U.S. Pop charts.

McPhatter soon signed to MGM Records, and released several more song, including "I Told Myself a Lie" and "Think Me a Kiss" (1960) and his first single for Mercury Records "Ta Ta". "I Never Knew" and his final Top Ten hit "Lover Please", which made it to #7 in 1962.

In 1968, McPhatter spent some time living in England where he was backed by UK band "ICE".

McPhatter returned to America in 1970, making a few appearances on Rock 'N Roll revival tours, but two years later on June 13, 1972, Clyde McPhatter died of complications of heart, liver, and kidney disease, brought on by alcohol abuse; that abuse was fueled by a failed career and resentment he felt towards the fans he thought deserted him. In a 1971 interview with journalist Marcia Vance, McPhatter told Vance "I have no fans." He was buried at George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus, New Jersey.[3][4]

Legacy and honors

In 1987 was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Rockabilly Hall of Fame recognized his pioneering efforts.

The Original Drifters were inducted in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.

The United States Postal Service issued a stamp in his honor in 1993.

The song "Money Honey" (1953) was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.


Title Peak Pop
Peak R&B
Year Label
Love Has Joined Us Together /I Gotta Have You (with Ruth Brown) - 8 1955 Atlantic
Seven Days 44 2 1956
Treasure of Love 16 1
Without Love (There Is Nothing)/I make Believe 19 4 1957
Just to Hold My Hand 26 6
Thirty Days - -
Long Lonely Nights 49 1
Rock and Cry 93 -
Come What May 43 3 1958
Lover Please 32 4
A Lover's Question 6 1
Lovey Dovey 49 12 1959 Atlantic
I Told Myself a Lie 70 MGM
Since You've Been Gone 39 14 Atlantic
Twice As Nice 91 MGM
You Went Back on Your Word 72 13 Atlantic
Let's Try Again 48 13 MGM
Just Give Me a Ring 96 1960 Atlantic
Deep Sea Ball / Let the Boogie-Woogie Roll - -
Think Me a Kiss 66 MGM
Ta Ta (Just Like a Baby) 23 7 Mercury
This Is Not Goodbye / One Right After Another - - MGM
Tomorrow Is a-Comin 103 - 1961 Mercury
I'll Love You Til the Cows Come Home 110 -
A Whole Heap of Love - -
I Never Knew 56 17
Same Time Same Place - -
Lover Please 7 - 1962
Little Bitty Pretty One 25 -
Maybe / I Do Believe - -
The Best Man Cried 118 -
From One To One 127 - 1963
Deep In the Heart of Harlem 90 90
Second Window, Second Floor - - 1964
Baby Baby / Lucille - -
Crying Won't Help You Now 117 22 1965
A Shot of Rhythm and Blues / I'm Not Going to Work Today - - 1966 Amy
Sweet and Innocent / Lavender Lace - - 1967
Baby You Got It - - 1968 Deram
I'll Belong to You /Book of Memories - - 1970 Decca
Why Can't We Get Together / Mixed Up Cup - -

No album he recorded ever appeared on the charts.

Music sample

Come What May: File:Come What May - McPhatter.ogg


  1. ^ Clyde McPhatter :
  2. ^
  3. ^ Browse by Cemetery: George Washington Memorial Park, Find A Grave, accessed April 6, 2007
  4. ^ "Sometimes the Grave Is a Fine and Public Place". New York Times. March 28, 2004. "There's no shortage of dead musicians, either. ... Clyde McPhatter started the Drifters. He had a heart attack and died at 39 in 1972; he's buried in George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus."  


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