Born John Alfred Moore in Selma, Alabama, United States, he began as lead of the Cleveland based group, The Hornets, before being discovered by The Drifters. He joined the group as lead vocalist, in New York in 1955, at age 21. He was drafted into the US Army for national service; upon returning, he recorded as a soloist under the name "Johnny Darrow". He rejoined the Drifters, now with four new members, and became the lead singer in 1964, after the death of Rudy Lewis. The group was due to record "Under the Boardwalk", and Moore took over the lead vocals. Subsequently, he became permanent lead. Moore had a string of hits with the group in the 1960s, most notably "Saturday Night At The Movies", "Come On Over To My Place", "At The Club" and "Up In The Streets Of Harlem". He remained with the group touring the United Kingdom from early 1970 to 1999, establishing him as the group's longest-serving member.