Clyde McPhatter Biography
By: Perihan El Etreby
Clyde McPhatter was an American singer who specialized in rhythm & blues, soul, and rock and roll. He was a crucial figure in the shaping of doo-wop and R&B and was one of the most frequently imitated R&B singers of the 1950s and early 1960s. He is well known for his songs “A Lover’s Question” and “Lover Please”. He was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Clyde was born on November 15, 1932, and he was the son of a minister in Durham, North Carolina, and raised in New Jersey. He spent much of his childhood in church, singing gospel in the choir and absorbing the intensity of the song. Clyde was asked to join vocal group Billy Ward & His Dominoes when he was 18, and it was the first significant shift of his career. Clyde first billed himself as Clyde Ward, claiming to be Billy’s brother, due to reservations about integrating gospel’s theological dramatics to the group’s seductive, romantic secular melodies. The quartet had hits with “Do Something For Me,” “I Am With You,” and “Sixty-Minute Man” from 1950 to 1952. One of the first R&B singles to also score on the pop charts; “Have Mercy Baby,” reached number one on the R&B charts for ten weeks in 1952.
Clyde was then committed to Atlantic Records with the stipulation that he assembles his own band. He quickly gathered a band and dubbed them “The Drifters“. In June 1953, they recorded a few recordings, including “Lucille,” a song composed by Clyde himself. However, this group of Drifters did not have the sound that Atlantic executives were searching for, prompting Clyde to put together a new group of singers. The Mount Lebanon Singers provided the majority of the first members of the Drifters. He was inducted into the United States Army in late 1954 and sent to Special Services in the continental United States, allowing him to continue recording. He quit the Drifters after his term of duty and began a solo career.
Just after his military discharge, Clyde recorded his first solo hit, “Love Has Joined Us Together”, with Ruth Brown. He released several R&B recordings in the next few years, including “Rock and Cry”, “Seven Days”, “Treasure of Love”, “Let Me Know”, “Just to Hold My Hand”, and his biggest solo hit, “A Lover’s Question”, written by Brook Benton and Jimmy T. Williams, which peaked at number six in 1958.
Clyde’s “Treasure of Love,” released in 1956, was his first number-one R&B hit as a solo artist, spending one week on the UK Singles Chart. It peaked at number 16 on the US pop charts and went on to sell over two million copies in the US alone, earning it a gold disc from the Recording Industry Association of America.
He has had over 16 songs in the Top 100 Hot Billboard, 5 of which made it to the top 40, and 3 made it to the top 10. His song “A Lover’s Question” was a top one hit on the Top Hot R&B chart, and remained on the chart for 23 weeks.
In 1968, Clyde moved to England. He returned to America in the early ’70s, signing with Decca Records at the time and releasing an album, Welcome Home. It failed to draw attention, and Clyde stated that he didn’t have any audience or fans left, which was not the case.
Years of drinking, depression, and a refusal to address his problems culminated in his death to a heart attack in 1972 in New York, where he was living with Bertha M. Reid. At the time of his death, he was a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey, and he was buried in Paramus, New Jersey’s George Washington Memorial Park. Deborah L. McPhatter, born in April 1953, was Clyde McPhatter’s only child at the time of his death.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Songs Did Clyde McPhatter Do With The Drifters?
Clyde McPhatter did a total of 11 songs with the Drifters. Some of his most notable work includes “Money Honey,” “Such a Night,” and “Honey Love.” He was an immensely talented singer and helped to define the sound of the Drifters during his time with the group. After leaving the Drifters, Clyde went on to have a successful solo career. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest R&B singers of all time.
When Was Clyde McPhatter Born?
Clyde McPhatter was born on October 15, 1932 in Durham, North Carolina. He was one of the most influential singers of the early rock and roll era, helping to pioneer the genre with his powerful voice and emotive style.
What Is Important About The Song “Have Mercy, Baby,” By Clyde McPhatter And The Dominoes?
There are a few things that make this song special. First, it was one of the first hits for Clyde McPhatter and the Dominoes. Second, it was written by Jackie Wilson, who went on to have a hugely successful career as a solo artist. Third, the song has a great message about love and mercy.
What Was Clyde McPhatter Biggest Hit?
Clyde McPhatter’s biggest hit was “A Lover’s Question.” The song peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1958.
Did Clyde McPhatter Sing With The Drifters?
Yes, Clyde McPhatter was the lead singer of the Drifters from 1953 to 1955. He was replaced by Ben E. King in 1958.
Where Was Clyde McPhatter Born?
Clyde McPhatter was born in North Carolina. He was the lead singer of The Drifters and had a successful solo career. He is considered one of the pioneers of rock and roll.