Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tales From The Drifter Diaries/The Vegas Years

The early 70s! Issac Hays  and Hot Buttered Soul opens at the Sahara
Hotel for the first time. The theme Shaft is hot on the airwaves.
A siege of punters, players and gamblers descend on Vegas and the
Sahara. In the Sahara lounge a star studded lineup featuring The Drifters,
Little Anthony & The Imperials and Sony Turner & Sound Unlimited.
It was one of those rare periods when black entertainment ruled the
Vegas strip. The money was fast and wild it was estimated the Sahara
lost million dollars during this engagement. The Drifters Bill Fredricks
had just won $20,000 at Keno. Butch Leake had won some $5,000 or
more two days earlier at the same game.
Photo Issac Hays & Butch Leake........
The Drifters in those years were a regular on the Vegas scene when at
that time some of the biggest acts in show business found it hard to
land a contract in the fun city. The Drifters had become what as known
as the entertainers entertainer. Late night you could find some of the
biggest talent on the strip sitting in on a Drifters show. We even had
nights when the artist came up on stage and jammed with us.
Bill Cosby on occasion would come up and play drums which was
always hilarious. Dionne Warwick and her sister sang background
with us as they did back in the earlier Drifter years when they
performed on the records. Others like Jerry Lewis, Bob Newhart
Robert Goulet and Gladys Night would come and hangout.
For the most part the Drifters shows were packed audiences.
Along with us on the same bill were Little Anthony & The Imperials
who were also favorites on the Vegas scene and another favorite
Sony Turner & Sound Unlimited. Sony was the replacement voice
for Tony Williams of The Platters and one of the great lead voices
of all times. The group was also a main feature at the Sahara Hotel
Lake Tahoe Nevada and would play opposite of Elvis Presley
in the show room. Other acts The Drifters worked with were The
Four Aces, The Four Tunes and Comedian Jackie Gayle.
For me meeting Sinatra was at the time  a crown achievement.
We worked on a Sammy Davis Telethon and being the dancer
of the group gave me the chance to showoff in front of the ,man himself. He was definitely one of my Idols.
Down at the Frontier Hotel in Vegas The Supreme's were frequent headliners and I wasted no time when I was off to catch there show.
Like many others I had a terrible crush on Mary Wilson.
The Drifters had a great band to work with headed by Butch Mann who was our musical conductor during those years.Butch was originally The lead guitarist for Ruby & The Romantics famous
for the title songs "Our Day Will Come" and "When Your Young
and In Love". Our regular base player was Seaborn Westerfield
but used Monk Montgomery the brother of guitarist West
Montgomery on many occasion.  Next: The South Africa Tour......
 Comedian Bob NewHart
For more info on The Drifters Legends log into the link below:

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