July 8, 2008
LONDON, UK – The Treadwell family have won a hard-fought legal battle to confirm their ownership of the UK & European trademarks of The Drifters name. The out-of-court settlement removes the ambiguity surrounding the identity of the longest-running band in pop history.
Fans and media alike have been confused by the existence of multiple outfits calling themselves The Drifters worldwide.
This court order prohibits former Drifters tour manager Philip Luderman and venue agent Mark Lundquist, plus four former employees, from ever using the name again.
Clintons lawyer Tom Frederikse, who represented the Treadwells, says: “The Drifters history is as interesting as it is unique, but there is one theme that’s constant – the name Treadwell. This is a moral victory for the Treadwells and we are delighted that they have now reaffirmed their legal right to the family business, which they have run for 55 years.”
The Drifters were founded 55 years ago by George Treadwell and from 1953 to 1967 were managed and controlled by Treadwell (who also managed Sammy Davis Jr., Sarah Vaughan & Billie Holiday amongst others). Treadwell had complete artistic control and instilled his ethic of vocal class & polished performance into the band and, together with Ahmet Ertegun, created the great records of the Atlantic and Bell Arista catalogue. It is this legacy that his widow, Faye Treadwell, and daughter, Tina Treadwell, have protected through the running of the business since George’s death in 1967. In fact, shortly before his death, Ertegun intervened in the case on behalf of the Treadwells and Prism Music Group to prevent the release of ‘fake’ product.
The Drifters have a long and unique history, having sold over 214 million singles and 114 million albums worldwide, ranking them alongside The Beatles, The Rolling Stones & The Bee Gees. They have racked up dozens of hits, 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”.
The band has featured over 60 different members in 55 years including Ben E King, Clyde McPhatter, Rudy Lewis and the late, great Johnny Moore. Throughout this time, George Treadwell (and following his death, Faye and Tina) have ensured The Drifters have maintained their musical integrity, tone and vibrancy through judicious changes of personnel and that the standards instilled by Treadwell have always been upheld and the quality has never wavered. Treadwell knew that while individuals may come and go, the group itself was greater than the sum of its parts.
This UK victory follows another major legal coup for the family in the US, in which music promoter and agent Larry Marshak was found liable in civil contempt late last year. Larry Marshak was accused by the Treadwell family of ‘passing off’ for having put out an unauthorized Drifters line up into Las Vegas and elsewhere in the US in a dispute going back several years. The US Supreme Court prohibited Marshak from using the name and found that he had fraudulently obtained the trademark and that the Treadwells were the sole rightful owners of The Drifters.
So what does the future hold for The Drifters? The ownership of The Drifters has now passed to George’s daughter, Tina, who wasformerly Chief Executive for the Warner/Disney Channel and has had her own casting agency in Hollywood. She has also nurtured the career success of major artists such as N’SYNC, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Speaking from Los Angeles earlier this week, Tina Treadwell announced: “We are thrilled by this outcome – for far too many years, The Drifters brand has been diluted. Now fans can be sure they can rely on a consistently high quality and authentic performance every time”.
The Drifters currently comprise of Steve King, Maurice Cannon, Michael Williams & Damion Charles and are now on a UK tour of more than 60 dates to be followed by a new album entitled “Five Decades & Moore” (a tribute to the late Johnny Moore on which The Drifters bring their unique style to an array of tracks from the likes of U2, The Beatles, Elton John & The Bee Gees). Early reviews of the show have been glowing and justify Treadwell’s fight:
“The group’s performance suggests that their forthcoming album will be a hit that will catapult them back into the mainstream pop market. They displayed the vocal class and charisma synonymous with the Drifters name. Mesmerised audience! Awesome band!!”
“The group’s vocals and slick choreography was faultless and fans were soon on their feet dancing along to favourites. A well-deserved standing ovation.”
Les Jowett, Express & Star – June 2008
“Fantastic night had by all. An extraordinary performance, sharp, cool and uplifting.”
“A thoroughly uplifting experience”
UK company, Prism Music Group, has been pivotal in the Treadwell’s legal battle and now holds the worldwide licence for The Drifters and is currently re-branding the group for the modern audience.
Full details of the band, their history and current tour dates can be found on www.thedrifters.co.uk