SUMTER, SC – January 16, 2008 – The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has scheduled a dedication ceremony Sunday, January 20, for the “Bill Pinkney of the Original Drifters Memorial Highway” in Sumter County.
The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. at Bill Pinkney Park, in Dalzell.
Scheduled speakers include Representative Grady Brown, Senator Phil Leventis, SCDOT Commission Chairman Bobby Jones, and Maxine Porter, President, Original Drifters, Inc.
Acting on a request by the South Carolina General Assembly, the SCDOT Commission agreed to designate the portion of old US Highway 521 (S-43-1342) from its intersection with SC Highway 441 to its intersection with Charles Jackson Road as “Bill Pinkney of the Original Drifters Memorial Highway” in honor of Bill Pinkney.
Pinkney was born in Dalzell on August 15, 1925. He volunteered for the United States Army at age 17 and took part in the Normandy invasion, fighting his way across Europe, earning a Presidential Citation with five Bronze Stars, the General Assembly’s resolution noted. “After the war, Bill Pinkney became an outstanding player with the New York Blue Sox of the Negro Baseball League,”
While in New York, Pinkney and others performed as The Southern Knights gospel quartet. Shortly thereafter, he met and became friends with well-known vocalist, the late Clyde McPhatter, and together they founded “The Drifters” vocal group, according to the resolution.
“The Drifters,” beginning with the song “Money Honey” on the Atlantic label in 1953 became one of the most beloved, durable, prolific, and popular rhythm and blues groups the world has ever known,” according to the resolution.
Pinkney, who passed away in July 2007, was awarded The Order of the Palmetto – the highest civilian award bestowed by the State of South Carolina, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the South Carolina Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame.
Pinkney “led an exemplary life of dedication as a soldier, patriot, gospel vocalist, athlete, and popular music superstar and legend,” the resolution noted.
Porter said Pinkney “blazed one of the deepest and most unique trails in music history with his groundbreaking work and as an advocate for artists’ rights and fair business practices.”