"These are artists without faces to the public, because in the '50s their pictures were not on album covers," said Porter. "This was preintegration. And there was a nice scene on the cover. You didn't see black faces on album covers in the 1950s."
Porter said that was because promoters "knew it wouldn't sell, not just that they thought it wouldn't sell. Remember, that was 1950s America."
She explained you often see one older singer at these bogus concerts. "So the audience can say, 'Ah, that's gotta be the original guy. He is the real one.'"
But often, he's a fake, too.
Bowzer, chair of the Truth in Music Committee of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame , has persuaded 18 states to require groups that call themselves a famous group to have at least one member who actually sang on the original records. Bowzer would like to see the fakes advertise themselves as "tribute" groups instead of implying they're the real deal.
"Tribute shows, as long as they are upfront about the fact that they are tribute shows and not trying to deceive anybody … are perfectly valid," he said.
The promoter, Charles Mehlich and his business associate Larry Marshak, wouldn't talk to "20/20" about this, so their lawyer, William Charron, did. He's helping them fight the court ban that prevents the promoters from using the Drifters' name.
Charron also claims that the Truth in Music laws are unconstitutional and unnecessary.
"You can't go out and legislate popularity," he told "20/20."
"The public is not paying to see 70- and 80-year-old guys onstage. They're paying to see some fun entertainment," Charron said. "They're not called the Drifters. They're called the Elsbeary Hobbs Drifters."
But Elsbeary Hobbs, who did sing with the Drifters, was not on the stage that night. Hobbs died more than a decade ago.
When asked if real musicians can't make as much money because of the phonies, Charron maintained, "Nobody's stopping them from working."
People in the audience don't think they're seeing the original artists, according to Charron.
"There's absolutely no showing of anybody being misled, or deceived, or fooled, or tricked," he said.
Like Thomas and King of the Drifters, Carl Gardner, founder of the Coasters, believes he's earned less money because of the many Coasters' groups performing. He writes about it in a new book with his wife Veta titled, "Yakety Yak, I Fought Back."
The fight continues against the bogus groups. In September a federal judge ordered Marshak and his associates to "immediately cancel all performances by the Elsbeary Hobbs Drifters, or any group which identifies itself by a name which includes the word 'Drifters,' and shall book no future performances of the group."
Charron is still working to challenge that decision. He's filed a motion for reconsideration.
But Thomas and other advocates say they have had enough of the fakes. Fans should demand the real deal when they spend their entertainment dollar.