LOS ANGELES (Drifters Official Website) - Writs have been served this week in London, setting the scene for a High Court battle over ownership of the name to the legendary pop group, The Drifters.
On the eve of a new British tour, a three-part TV documentary on the history of the group and the release of the first official new Drifters album in 30 years, the Treadwell family - who have musically and legally controlled The Drifters since 1953 - are accusing their former British tour manager, Philip Luderman, former agent Mark Lundquist and the company of 'passing off' a UK group as the real thing and infringing The Drifters' trademark.
Also named in the High Court action are former Drifter musicians ROHAN DELANO TURNEY (also known as ROLAND TURNER), PETER FLETCHER (also known as PETER LAMAR), PATRICK WHIBBLE (also known as PATRICK ALAN) and VICTOR BYNOE.
The Treadwells are represented by top London entertainment law firm Clintons, one of the most highly regarded specialist music litigators in the UK. Clintons successfully defended Sony in the proceedings brought by George Michael and have been involved in many ground breaking cases representing amongst others: The Stone Roses in their battle for independence from Silvertone and U2 against the Performing Rights Society.
Treadwells are demanding that the court rule that the UK defendants are not entitled to use the name "The Drifters", that they must stop operating the websites www.the-original-drifters.com and www.drifters.co.uk, passing off themselves as The Drifters and their recordings as The Drifters, plus damages and costs.
On the eve of launching the High Court action, Tina Treadwell, daughter of the late Drifters founder George Treadwell and Faye Treadwell, who has herself helped nurture the careers of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christine Aguilera and N-SYNCH, said: 'It is my goal to rid the marketplace of all the warring factions of The Drifters so there is just one group that the fans can depend upon. It's a modern day David vs Goliath story on so many levels. When something is wonderful you always have people who will copy it. People have gone up against my mother because she is a black woman, because she is old and they believed they could walk over her and she wouldn't have the money to fight them. So I am here to make a stand for righteousness."
The Drifters are the longest running band in pop history still performing live today and one of the largest record-selling groups in the world, ranking with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones & The Bee Gees. Selling than 200 million singles and 80 million albums in the USA; 14 million singles and nine million albums in the UK; and 25 million albums in the rest of the world, they have had more than 50 hits world-wide - including "There Goes My Baby", "Saturday Night At The Movies", "Save The Last Dance For Me", "Under The Boardwalk", "Up On The Roof" and "You're More Than A Number In My Little Red Book".
Between 1960 and 1979 more than 20 different single recordings of the group appeared in the UK charts, and nine were in the Top 10; The Drifters' singles have spent 176 weeks in the UK Charts; the Group's albums have spent 109 weeks in the UK Charts, with two going gold and one platinum; "Save The Last Dance For Me" reached No 2 in the UK Charts, and stayed in the UK Charts for 18 weeks. It became the second most popular Juke Box track (behind an Elvis Presley recording. Many of the Group's hit records have featured in UK television advertising campaigns including: BT Business Directory - You're More Than A Number In My Little Red Book; British Airways - Up On The Roof; The Territorial Army - Saturday Night At The Movies; TSB - Saturday Night At The Movies; Wimpy - Come On Over To My Place
Between 1954 and 1967, The Drifters were controlled and managed by George Treadwell. A svengali in the mould of X Factor judge and pop impresario Simon Cowell today, George managed among others Sammy Davis Jr., Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan.
George, together with his wife, Faye, who he married in 1955, exercised complete artistic control over The Drifters brand. He hired and fired singers in the group - including all four in one line up in one memorable night in the 1950s. There have been more than 53 changes in the line-up of The Drifters in 53 years - and group members have included such legendary icons as Ben E King, Clyde McPhatter, Ruby Lewis and the late, great Johnny Moore.
Each of the singers in The Drifters were paid a salary every seventh gig and all signed contracts stating that the name of "The Drifters" belonged exclusively to Treadwells and that they would not at any time use the name of "The Drifters" or any similar name incorporating The Drifters. If they left the group, they were barred from even advertising the fact that they had been a member of "The Drifters", with the threat of financial penalty if they breached this contract.
Following George Treadwell's early death in May 1967, all rights in the business, including rights in the name The Drifters, passed to Faye, who brought The Drifters to the UK for their first tour, which was such a success that in 1972 she decided to move the territorial base of the Group from the United States of America to the United Kingdom.
In the 1990s, after decades of conflicting and contradictory claims, a new court ruling determined that Faye Treadwell owned the trademark of the Drifters' name.
In April 2001, Faye became ill and her daughter Tina Treadwell flew from California to London to take her back to the United to care for her. Faye instructed PHILIP LUDERMAN and MARK LUNDQUIST, who at this time were the group's tour manager and venue agent respectively, that The Drifters should honour its existing bookings and engagements, which at that date were until May 2001, and after should not perform again until Faye or Tina Treadwell was in a position to return to the United Kingdom and give them further instructions.
In her absence they formed their own UK group that they call The Drifters. They advertised and promoted the group on printed venue flyers as "Faye Treadwell Presents! The Drifters". In December 2005 the defendants produced new recording purporting to be of The Drifters in association with Gary Brooker of Procol Harum. In April 2006, the defendants made the following statement on the website www.thedrifters.co.uk: THE DRIFTERS are proud to announce their first release for over 20 years "THE DRIFTERS NOW! - the legacy" audio release 19th June 2006, on Pinnacle Records.
Over the years a number of other bands and groups have passed themselves off as The Drifters and Faye Treadwell initiated numerous legal proceedings and successfully prosecuted them all.
The next stage in her battle to secure The Drifters brand and safeguard her copyright moves to the High Court.