Clyde McPhatter of Durham, Influential Rhythm and Blues Performer

Clyde McPhatter of DurhamOn August 9, 1953, Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters recorded “Money Honey” at Atlantic Studios in New York City. The song was a huge success, remaining on the rhythm and blues charts for 23 weeks and peaking at #1. Rolling Stone ranked it as 252nd greatest song of all time in 2010.

Born in Durham in 1932, McPhatter got his start in music in the Baptist church where his father was minister. After his family moved to New Jersey, McPhatter won an amateur night at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater and caught the attention of doo-wop singer Billy Ward, who invited McPhatter to join his group.

McPhatter started a group of his own in the early 1950s, and together they quickly produced a number of hits including “Money Honey” and a doo-wop version of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” After a stint in the Army, he embarked on a solo career and tracked up more successes including “Treasure of Love.”


Though he continued to record new music in the early and mid-1960s, McPhatter became disillusioned with the music industry and moved to England. His career continued to decline in large measure because of his battle with alcoholism.

He died in 1972, and was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

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