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Bill Pinky

Bill Pinky Biography

Maybe Phillips International was going to specialize in artists whose last names started with ‘P’. Pittman, Powers, and now Pinky. Actually, that’s Pinkney, although his handle was surgically shortened to Pinky. In any case, Pinky was the first black artist who had graced a Sun microphone in quite a while.

“After the Hop” is one of those Larry Williams teen records that manages to work in names like Short Fat Fanny while creating images of dancing away the night. In many ways this is mindless teen fluff from 40 years ago, yet its instrumental track has an undeniable energy starting with those strangled sax notes by Bill Justis. The longer the track goes on, the more Sun fans will recognize it as a reprise of Roy Orbison’s “Chicken Hearted,” recorded just months earlier.

“Sally’s Got a Sister” is a slightly different matter. Although it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be or, more aptly, how to get there, there is a very interesting record buried in here. The verses (more references to “Long Tall Sally” and company) are trite enough to make you sit back and pay attention when the release (containing the title) finally arrives. This song works! Then there’s the business of the instrumental break: not one, but two. After Bill Justis has his say and we’re expecting Pinky and The Turks to come back in with the hook-laden release again, we’re treated to 12 more bars of jamming, this time by Roland. A strange record indeed.

Originally from South Carolina, Pinkney was singing alongside Brook Benton in the Jerusalem Stars when Clyde McPhatter drafted him into The Drifters in 1953. After McPhatter left, Pinkney sang lead on a few songs, including “Steamboat” before the Drifters’ manager (and owner), George Treadwell, fired him in 1957. He did a tour with Bill Justis and Roland Janes, which probably accounts for his one-off single. In all likelihood, it was recorded shortly before Pinkney put together a group called The Flyers with Bobby Hendricks that made one record for Atco. Pinkney meanwhile was still recording occasionally with The Drifters until Treadwell fired the lot in 1958. He then formed a group called The Original Drifters that lasted well into the Seventies.

Bill Pinky Releases