NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rhythm and blues singer Bill Pinkney, the last surviving member of the original lineup of The Drifters, was found dead in his hotel room hours before he was due to perform in a July 4 celebration.
Police spokesman Jimmie Flynt said 81-year-old Pinkney was found dead on Wednesday evening at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort in Florida. There was no evidence of foul play, he said.
Pinkney was scheduled to perform with The Original Drifters that night for U.S. Independence Day festivities.
His manager Maxine Porter said Pinkney had been suffering from heart problems recently but that it was too soon to say if the cause of death was a heart attack.
She said a funeral would be held next week in Sumter in Pinkney’s home state of South Carolina.
The Drifters were known for such hits as “Money Honey,” “Under the Boardwalk,” and the 1954 cover version of “White Christmas.”
Pinkney, a World War Two veteran and former pitcher for the New York Blue Sox of the Negro Baseball League, was the only surviving member of the original lineup of the group that formed in 1953. He left the group in 1958 in a dispute over money and set up The Original Drifters.
Seven members of The Drifters, including Pinkney, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.