Oldies Promoter Found In Contempt

A judge has found oldies promoter Larry Marshak in contempt for using a derivative of "The Drifters" name in defiance of an 8-year-old court order.

U.S. District Judge Dickinson Debevoise used the phrase "an elaborate shell game" to describe Marshak’s promotion of Elsbeary Hobbs’ Drifters. The group is active, although Elsbeary Hobbs, who sang in the original group, is deceased.

In a September 10th decision, Debevoise held that Marshak and his relatives and business associates violated a 1999 injunction banning the use of The Drifters name "or any other name that would be confusingly similar."

Former Drifters manager Faye Treadwell has battled with Marshak for decades. She is seeking profits from concerts Marshak promoted under the name of Elsbeary Hobbs’ Drifters, according to attorney Cindy Salvo.

Meanwhile, two management companies connected to Marshak are suing New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram, challenging the enforcement of the state’s "truth in music" law, which was passed in May and designed to prevent the unauthorized use of existing groups’ names.

Milgram’s office recently served a subpoena seeking advertising and marketing materials from the Atlantic City Hilton Casino, where The Platters, Elsbeary Hobbs’ Drifters and The Cornell Gunter Coasters were playing. Marshak and his associates, including his wife and sister-in-law, have promoted shows involving the acts in New Jersey and elsewhere.

The Hilton discontinued advertising and ticket sales to the shows, then reprinted tickets that billed the show as "a tribute to" the Coasters, Drifters and Platters.

Acts from the ’50s including The Drifters, The Coasters and The Platters have many splinter groups that have fought over rights to use the original name.