Music fans were saddened this week to learn that Rock & Roll Hall of Famer member Charlie Thomas died at the age of 85.
According to Fox News, Thomas’ passing was confirmed by his close friend Peter Lemongello Jr., who said the singer had struggled with liver cancer.
Friend left “completely devastated” by Thomas’ death
“He was aging, 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 going downhill.”
Lemongello Jr. spoke mournfully of Thomas in an Instagram post, saying that he was “completely devastated and shattered after loosing [sic] my best friend of so many years.”
Lemongello Jr. went on to point out that Thomas was “the last original recording member of The Legendary Drifters,” an award-winning R&B group.
“Charlie was with the group longer and on more hit records than any other member in history,” Lemongello Jr. continued, adding, “His accomplishments were recognized when he was 1 of just 7 members of The Drifters to be inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.”
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame says Thomas “helped bridge gospel with R&B and blues”
“I have so many fond memories that we have spent together through much of my life growing up, that I will cherish forever,” Lemongello Jr. declared. “I can still hear Charlie proclaim ‘Peter Is A Star!’ which he would often tell me and whoever was around. I’ll miss you forever Charlie!”
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame also issued a statement that praised Thomas’ “elegant tenor vocals,” saying they “helped bridge gospel with R&B and blues and laid the foundation for 1960s soul music.”
(1/2) In Memoriam: 1988 Inductee Charlie Thomas’ elegant tenor vocals helped bridge gospel with R&B and blues and laid the foundation for 1960s soul music. His work with The Drifters ushered in a golden age of enduring hits like “There Goes My Baby,” “Sweets for My Sweet,” pic.twitter.com/VzaCAEPet1
— Rock Hall (@rockhall) February 7, 2023
“Charlie Thomas’ suave, sophisticated voice elevated everyday joys and loves, striking a universal chord in listeners everywhere,” the organization stressed.
Social media tributes honor fallen singer
Tributes to Thomas quickly appeared on social media, including from WorkHouse Records CEO and founder Adam Nelson, who tweeted that he “had the great fortune” of working with the late artist.
I had the great fortune of capturing the legendary Charlie Thomas of “The Drifters” as he sang his iconic chart topper ‘Under the Boardwalk’ on the historic Asbury Park Boardwalk. He was the very sound of the sea #RIP #asburypark #drifters #charliethomas pic.twitter.com/uSAJaSFrGT
— Adam Nelson (@workhousepr) January 31, 2023
Fellow musician Gary U.S. Bonds spoke up as well, describing Thomas as “a good friend,” adding, “We will miss you.”
Sadly, we lost another good friend today, Charlie Thomas of the Drifters. Rest in peace, Charlie. We will miss you.#rocknroll#legend pic.twitter.com/BtBTipIZi8
— Gary U.S. Bonds (@gary_us_bonds) February 1, 2023