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Posted by: In: Other 12 May 2024 Comments: 0


568-Drifters-Saturday Night at the Movies.

1964-Number 35 single. When it was re-issued in 1972 it peaked at Number 3.

Best Bit-At 0.36. The Drifters must have been very partial to a night at the movies, because I can recall another occasion when they told us what they got up to when sitting in the back row.

The Drifters are one of, if not the longest running act in Pop Music, having formed in New York City, United States, in 1953. Since their inception there has been a total of 45 different group members, with several splinter groups being formed by former members, usually identified with a ‘possessive credit,’ such as ‘Bill Pinkney’s Original Drifters,’ or’Charlie Thomas’ Drifters,’ as examples. The Drifters have had nine different lead singers appear on their chart hit singles since 1953, with perhaps the best acknowledged being Clyde McPhatter, (1932-1972) who was the first lead singer with the original Drifters between 1953-1955. Ben E, King (1938-2015) (see also best songs 804) was the lead singer between 1958-1960, before leaving for a solo career, and then returning for a second stint between 1981-1985. The lead singer with the longest longevity was Johnny Moore, (1934-1998) who joined the Drifters in 1954, and intermittently was in and out of the group until his death.

The discography of the Drifters includes 10 studio Albums released between 1956-1976, and 72 singles released between 1953-2013, there are also nine official compilation Albums available. In America on the Billboard Hot 100, 16 of their singles have reached the top 40, with ‘Save the Last Dance for Me,’ with Ben E King on lead vocals making it all the way to Number 1, while ‘Saturday Night At the Movies’ reached Number 18. In the UK, the Drifters have had 17 top 40 hits, with both ‘Save the Last Dance for Me,’ (1960) and ‘Kissin’ in the Back Row of the Movies,’ (1974) both peaking at Number 2.

‘Saturday Night At the Movies’ which had the lead vocals sung by Johnny Moore, was written by Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil. (1940-2023) with the production being by Bert Berns, (1929-1967) (see also best songs 762) the song was added to the Drifters fifth studio Album ‘The Good Life with the Drifters,’ from 1965. In America the song was far more successful than in the UK, where it didn’t become a major hit until 1972, when re-issued as a double ‘A’ sided single with ‘At the Club’ (1965-Billboard Number 43.) This led to a resurgence in popularity in the UK for the Drifters, as their then current record label ‘Bell Records’ released new material, giving the group nine consecutive UK top 40 hits between 1973-1976, with Johnny Moore providing lead vocals on eight of them, the exception being ‘Like Sister and Brother,’ (1973-UK Number 7) which had lead vocals by Bill Fredericks (1941-1999) In America the Drifters couldn’t replicate that success, as ‘Saturday Night At the Movies’ (1964) remains their final chart entry on Billboard to date.

‘Saturday Night At the Movies’ was co-written by the legendary song writing team of Barry Mann (melody) and Cynthia Weil, (lyrics) (see also best songs 782 and 247) who were husband and wife from 1961 until Cythia Weil’s death in 2023. Barry Mann was born Barry Imberman, on February 9th, 1939, in Brooklyn, New York City, United States, and Cynthia Weil was born on October 18th, 1940, in New York City, United States, she died at her home on June 1st, 2023, at the age of 82. Prior to writing their first hit together in 1961, Barry Mann had a singing career that began in 1959, and had charted on Billboard in 1961 at Number 7 with ‘Who Put the Bomp (in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp’) but although he would continue to record, his first love was songwriting. Classic songs written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil that would help shape the sound of the 1960’s include ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ for The Righteous Brothers, (1964-Billboard & UK Number 1) ‘We Gotta Get out of This Place,’ for The Animals (1965-Billboard Number 13 & UK Number 2) and ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music,’ for Mama Cass Elliot (1969-Billboard Number 36.) Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil have also written with others and as individuals, with Mann having written or co-written 98 Billboard hits, and 53 UK hit singles. In 1987 they were both inducted into the ‘Songwriters Hall of Fame,’ and in 2011, they jointly received the ‘Johnny Mercer Award,’ which is the highest honour bestowed by that Hall of Fame.

‘Well, there’s Technicolor and CinemaScope, a cast out of Hollywood, and the popcorn from the candy stand makes it all seem twice as good. There’s always lots of pretty girls, with figures they don’t try to hide, but they never can compare to the girl sitting by my side. Saturday night at the movies.’