As my brother listened to me enthuse about the idea of a show based around the music of the Drifters, we knew then that it would be one of the greatest challenges we had ever undertaken. Leaving aside the fact that it would be a musical nightmare, where were we going to find another two vocalists of the standard we required with total commitment and probably most important, possessing the necessary vocal range, blend and quality to recreate such a unique sound?
I had first performed with Tam Paton’s band ‘The Index’ before starting a group called Maxi’s Taxis in 1967, it was evident right from the start that as brothers our vocal blend was to be the backbone of our success over the next forty years. The band split in March 1970. Lewis and I however remained focused on our music careers and four months later formed a group called Django. We were taken under the management of Tommy McDonald (who also managed Edinburgh band ‘Reflection’ who appeared on Opportunity Knocks) and our road crew consisted of a road manager and two Roadies not forgetting to mention a Fan Club Secretary to handle all our affairs.
We performed all types of covers but predominantly soul hits such as ‘I’m Your Puppet’ (Sam & Dave), ‘Resurrection Shuffle’ (Ashton Gardener & Dyke) and The Funky Chicken (Rufus Thomas). We travelled all over the UK and Europe often performing three of four times a week to sell out venues such as the London Palladium, American Naval bases and medium sized theatres. I decided to leave Django in 1991.
October the 21st 1991. A date never to be forgotten in my musical career. A sequence of events were triggered that would change the course of my career forever. An American based agent and promoter contacted me as he was looking for a lead singer in a Drifters based show. Vocal rehearsals began in November 1991. The beginning of a new era, I took to the stage as lead vocalist on the Sounds of the Drifters show, we played our first theatre date to critical acclaim. This came as no real surprise, after all, this was exactly the kind of environment this style of show the show was intended for.
What was to happen next however, was nothing short of miraculous. In 1992 a Drifters Legend came a knocking, we were off on a three month tour with Ben E King taking in Germany, Holland, Iceland and many other parts of Europe. Later in 1992 I toured again with Drifters legends Ben E King, Billy Lewis and Tony Jackson with huge success in numerous countries.
It seemed that barring disaster, we were on the verge of a major breakthrough and then that disaster came. In June 2001 we lost Tony Jackson, he was an amazing vocalist and songwriter but above all a true friend. Knowing Tony was a great honour and privilege, during his time with us Tony also provided backing vocals for Paul Young and also recorded the hit record Run to You by Rage which reached number 3 in the UK Top 40.
Over the next seven years our success continued and we gained a loyal following across the UK and Europe. They say lightning does not strike twice, well it does and yet again disaster struck in the cruellest possible way. In December 2010 my brother who I had shared the stage with for so many years suddenly passed away, we had been speaking on the phone only a matter of hours before his untimely passing away, this is the stuff of your worst nightmares. We all pulled together and drew strength from the fact that we knew Lewis would of wanted us to carry on. For several years prior to his death my brother had been mentoring our nephew Stevie as he was keen to follow in the family footsteps. In December 2010 my nephew Stevie stepped up to the mark to fill the void left by Lewis.
January 2011 it was the year of our re-launch . The year we had decided to go all out with fresh ideas, renewed enthusiasm, new management and hard cash! January is a typically quiet time of year so we turned the lack of gigs in the early part of the year to our advantage. We spent a great deal of time concentrating on the business side of show-business. Our time and efforts were put towards branding, websites, photographs and the future! I can honestly say those months were the most satisfying, enjoyable and successful of my professional life.
For spring 2011 we had a new, harder hitting show, bigger and better gear and a new look, our sound was awesome, all our voices were in great shape, the atmosphere was electric, in short it was perfect. The addition of music from the Temptations, Four Tops and various other Soul & Motown artists took our show to a whole new level.
So here we are today bigger, stronger and better than ever. Our following and support has never been better and via several social networking sites we stay in regular contact with the many fans we have.