Single Stories: The Drifters, “Sweets For My Sweet”
57 years ago today, The Drifters released their first single to feature Charlie Thomas on vocals, a Doc Pomus / Mort Shuman composition which was a big hit for the group and an even bigger hit for a completely different group.
Just before joining – or, more appropriately, being recruited for – The Drifters, Thomas had been a member of The Five Crowns. When manager George Treadwell, who owned the rights to The Drifters’ name, got fed up with his current crop of performers and decided to fire all of the existing members of The Drifters, he decided to grab The Five Crowns and recruit them to become the new incarnation of The Drifters. It was a ballsy move, to be sure, but between the recognition factor of the group’s name and the talent of the members of The Five Crowns, damned if Treadwell’s boldness didn’t pay off: “Sweets for My Sweet” climbed to #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to #10 on the R&B Singles chart.
But as we indicated above, that was far from the end of the success that “Sweets for My Sweet” would find: only a few years later, the song was recorded by The Searchers, whose Merseybeat rendition of the tune became a #1 hit in the UK. Oddly, it didn’t chart at all in America, but there’s just no accounting for taste.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, The Drifters and The Searchers weren’t the only two artists to tackle this track: with a little searching, you should be able to find versions by The Buckinghams, The McCoys, The Riddles, Cashman, Pistilli & West, Tina Charles, Magnum, C.J. Lewis, Brian Wilson, and Neil Diamond, among others. Truly, it is a classic.
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