Restaurant curries no favour with Drifters

IAN MacKINNON

What's the difference between a curry house in Leeds, West Yorkshire, and an American soul band which had its hey-day in the Sixties and Seventies? Not very much, it seems.

So little, in fact, that the two could be easily confused. This is the case if you believe the artistes, and their solicitors, Judge, Sykes and Harrison.

The risk of the identities of the two being mistaken is acute because the restaurant bears the strikingly similar name, the New Drifters, leading the band's lawyers to demand that it be changed. A few months ago, as the group was about to stage a concert at the Grand Theatre yards from the restaurant, the owner was gob-smacked to open a solicitor's letter. On behalf of Treadwell Drifter Inc, it stated grandly: "Our client is concerned lest genuine fans of the group [of whom there are many in the Leeds area] are somehow confused into thinking that your restaurant is in anyway connected with our client."

The band - formed in 1953 by the Dominoes' singer Clyde McPhatter and evolving out of a gospel quartet, The Thrasher Wanderers - generously offered to pay all the costs of the name change.

But the restaurateur, Abdul Ghaffar, has become rather attached to the name. His first restaurant, which opened in 1981, was christened after a friend who drifted from town to town. After selling the restaurant, it seemed natural that his new premises opened last year should be the New Drifters.

"We were really surprised to get the letter," said Mr Ghaffar, who is not a great music fan and knew little of the Drifters' music before the row began. "A curry house related to a music group? It's beyond my belief."

Negotiations between Mr Ghaffar and the band, whose hits include "Under the Boardwalk" and "Saturday Night at the Movies", have rumbled on, though a deal may be close.

There is no truth, however, in the rumour that Berry Gordy's Motown label is threatening to sue Tesco over its best-selling Chicken Supremes.

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