The Drifters - Up on the Roof - 1962


The Drifters are an iconic American doo-wop and R&B/soul vocal group. Formed in 1953, they have been known for their distinctive sound and influential music. One of their most famous hits is "Up on the Roof," released in 1962. Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, the song has been widely acclaimed for its serene melody and reflective lyrics. It paints a vivid picture of finding an urban oasis, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The song has stood the test of time, becoming a classic in the American songbook.

The Drifters

The Drifters underwent several lineup changes over the years, but their sound remained unique and instantly recognizable. Their music, including "Up on the Roof," is characterized by smooth harmonies, heartfelt lyrics, and a blend of rhythm and blues with traditional pop.

"Up on the Roof"

The song "Up on the Roof" is a masterpiece of the early '60s music era, encapsulating the desire for peace and solitude amidst the chaos of everyday life. The rooftop, as described in the song, serves as a metaphorical haven, offering a peaceful retreat from the world below.


"Up on the Roof" has been covered by numerous artists and remains a beloved classic. Its influence can be seen in various genres, showcasing the song's universal appeal and timeless quality.

For more information, visit:

  1. The Drifters
  2. Gerry Goffin and Carole King
  3. 1960s Music

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

What year was "Up on the Roof" released? (1962) (!1958) (!1965) (!1970)

Who were the primary writers of "Up on the Roof"? (Gerry Goffin and Carole King) (!Ben E. King and Jerry Leiber) (!Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson) (!Paul McCartney and John Lennon)

What theme is central to the lyrics of "Up on the Roof"? (Finding peace and solitude away from the chaos) (!Celebrating the vibrancy of city life) (!The challenges of romantic relationships) (!The journey of a traveling musician)

Which musical group originally performed "Up on the Roof"? (The Drifters) (!The Temptations) (!The Beatles) (!The Supremes)

What metaphor is used in "Up on the Roof" to describe a place of retreat? (The rooftop) (!A garden) (!A beach) (!A mountain)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

In what year were The Drifters originally formed? (1953) (!1945) (!1960) (!1950)

Which genre of music is The Drifters primarily associated with? (R&B/soul and doo-wop) (!Rock 'n' roll) (!Jazz) (!Blues)

Which song by The Drifters has been widely acclaimed for its serene melody? ("Up on the Roof") (!"Stand By Me") (!"Under the Boardwalk") (!"Save the Last Dance for Me")

How is The Drifters' music, including "Up on the Roof," characterized? (Smooth harmonies and heartfelt lyrics) (!Fast-paced rhythms and improvisational solos) (!Heavy electric guitar riffs and aggressive vocals) (!Minimalist instrumentation and introspective lyrics)

The Drifters are known for their influence on which musical styles? (R&B/soul and doo-wop) (!Country and western) (!Heavy metal) (!Classical)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What does the rooftop represent in "Up on the Roof"? (A retreat from the world) (!A place for parties) (!A symbol of isolation) (!A spot for romantic encounters)

According to the song "Up on the Roof," what can you find away from the hustle and bustle of the street? (Peace and freedom) (!Love and romance) (!Adventure and excitement) (!Wealth and success)

In "Up on the Roof," where do troubles seem to melt away? (Up on the roof) (!In the silence of the night) (!In the heart of the city) (!By the ocean)

What is the mood of the song "Up on the Roof"? (Serene and reflective) (!Energetic and upbeat) (!Sad and melancholic) (!Angry and frustrated)

What element of the song "Up on the Roof" contributes significantly to its timeless appeal? (Its universal theme of seeking solitude) (!Its complex instrumentation) (!Its focus on specific historical events) (!Its use of modern slang)


The Drifters Formed in 1953
"Up on the Roof" Released in 1962
Gerry Goffin and Carole King Songwriters
Rooftop Metaphor for retreat
R&B/Soul Genre

Open Tasks


  1. Create a Playlist: Compile a playlist of early 60s soul and R&B hits, including "Up on the Roof."
  2. Explore the Lyrics: Write a short paragraph about what the lyrics of "Up on the Roof" mean to you.
  3. Urban Oasis: Draw or photograph your version of an "urban oasis" inspired by "Up on the Roof."


  1. Song Analysis: Analyze how "Up on the Roof" reflects the culture and society of early 1960s America.
  2. Cover Versions: Research and compare different cover versions of "Up on the Roof." What makes each version unique?
  3. Musical Influence: Discuss how The Drifters influenced the music of later artists or bands.


  1. Songwriting Exercise: Write your own song inspired by "Up on the Roof," focusing on a theme of escapism or solace.
  2. Historical Context: Explore the historical context of the early 1960s and how it may have influenced the music of The Drifters.
  3. Video Documentary: Create a short documentary about The Drifters, highlighting their impact on music.
  4. Interview Project: Conduct interviews with people who experienced the early 60s music scene and their thoughts on "Up on the Roof."

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Oral Exam

  1. Cultural Significance: Discuss the cultural significance of "Up on the Roof" in the context of 1960s America.
  2. Musical Evolution: Explain how the sound of The Drifters evolved over the years and why it remained influential.
  3. Lyrical Interpretation: Interpret the lyrics of "Up on the Roof" in a modern context. How do they resonate today?
  4. Comparative Analysis: Compare "Up on the Roof" to another hit song of the 60s. What similarities and differences can you identify?
  5. Genre Influence: Explore how the genres of R&B and doo-wop have been influenced by groups like The Drifters.

OERs on the Topic


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