September 2001

Bill Pinkney

Musician

“He is known throughout the world as a musical Living Legend. Bill Pinkney, one of the members of the Original Drifters, was born in the Palmetto State on August 15, 1925, in the small town of Dalzell. He is currently the Ambassador of Music for the State of South Carolina. Mr. Pinkney is the sole surviving 1953 member of the Original Drifters. He owns exclusive rights to the name and/or mark of the Original Drifters. The Drifters set the format for many musical groups to follow. Their style and versatility are legendary. The original Drifters consisted of gospel singers Bill Pinkney, Gearhart and Andrew Thrasher, and group organizer Clyde McPhatter. They first met in 1949 while performing with gospel quartets. Mr. McPhatter persuaded the men to form a musical group and finally, in 1953, Atlantic Records offered them a contract. Thus, began the Drifter’s musical legacy. In 1988, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their all time best selling song, White Christmas, features Bill Pinkney as the lead singer. Mr. Pinkney is a former pitcher for the New York Blue Sox Baseball Team. He served in the United States Army during World War II and is the recipient of four Bronze Stars, and a Presidential Citation for military service. He has received letters of commendation from many world leaders, including United States President Bill Clinton and President Nelson Mandela of South Africa. In addition, the State of South Carolina has proclaimed May 14th as Bill Pinkney Day. He has numerous honors for his pioneering work in music. Among his honors and awards are: Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, member of the United Group Harmony Hall of Fame, Beach Music Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame. Additionally, the State of South Carolina has established a state park at his Dalzell, Sumter County birthplace; presented him with the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor; and commissioned him the State’s official “”Ambassador of Music.”” Mr. Pinkney holds the Key to the State of South Carolina, as well as the keys to Sumter, Bamberg, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Melbourne, Florida; Morristown, Tennessee; and Las Vegas, Nevada. He has been honored in other places, and by other groups including Austin, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Bill Pinkney’s current Drifters are still touring and recording. His show, hailed as “”the best act of its genre on the music scene today,”” reflects the Drifters’ influence on the musical industry, as well as the nostalgia generated on all ages who love Bill Pinkney and his music. He is, indeed, a living legend!”