Drifters musician Charlie Thomas dies at 85

Musician Charlie Thomas has died aged 85.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer died Jan. 31 after battling liver cancer, his friend Peter Lemongello Jr. confirmed to Fox News Digital.

Lemongello Jr., also a musician, noted that the funeral will be held Feb. 16 at First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Landover, Maryland.

Lemongello Jr. also shared a tribute to Thomas on Instagram.


“I am completely devastated and broken after losing [sic] my best friend for so many years, Charlie Thomas, the last original member of The Legendary Drifters,” he captioned a photo of the two. “Charlie has been with the band longer and on more hit records than any other member of the story. His achievements were recognized as one of 7 members of The Drifters to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.”

“I have so many great memories that we spent together for much of my life growing up that I will cherish forever,” added Lemongello Jr. “I can still hear Charlie proclaim ‘Peter Is A Star!’ which he often said to me and anyone else. I will miss you forever, Charlie!”

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame also paid tribute to the singer on social media.

“The elegant tenor voice of 1988 inductee Charlie Thomas helped connect gospel to R&B and blues and laid the foundation for 1960s soul music,” the post reads.

“Charlie Thomas’ suave, sophisticated voice elevated everyday joys and loves, striking a universal chord in listeners around the world.”

Charlie Thomas was known for the songs “Sweets for My Sweet” and “When My Little Girl is Smiling” by The Drifters. (Getty Images)


Thomas was best known as one of the members of the Drifters. Some of the best songs included “Under the Boardwalk” and “There Goes My Baby”.

He sang lead vocals on hits such as “Sweets for My Sweet” and “When My Little Girl is Smiling.”

Thomas toured with the band for years and only slowed down once he fell ill at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Charlie Thomas continued to tour with the Drifters until the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Charlie Thomas continued to tour with the Drifters until the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. (Getty Images)


“He was getting older, but he was active almost every weekend,” Lemongello Jr. told The New York Times. “Unfortunately, he went from being active to being at home, and he started to go downhill.”

Thomas is survived by his wife Rita Thomas and their children.

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