Charlie Thomas, best known for hits like "Under the Boardwalk," "This Magic Moment," "Up on the Roof," "On Broadway," and "Save the Last Dance for Me," died at the age of 85. The news was confirmed by his friend and fellow singer, Peter Lemongello Jr., via Instagram on January 31.
Lemongello wrote, "I'm devastated and shattered by the loss of my best friend of so many years, Charlie Thomas, the last original recording member of The Legendary Drifters."
“I’ll miss you forever, Charlie.”
Willis and Lucinda Thomas, a minister and homemaker respectively, were born on April 7, 1937 in Lynchburg, Va., and joined the band by accident in 1958 after discovering the manager George Treadwell's at the Apollo in New York City.
According to music historian Marv Goldberg, one band member cursed out the owner of the Apollo and the promoter, leading Treadwell to fire all its members and replace them with the Crowns. Thomas and Ben Nelson were the first to be known as Ben E. King on that night.
"I used to sing hooky to see the Drifters at the Apollo," said Thomas of his sudden inclusion into the group in 1960, reaching the Billboard Hot 100 with "Save the Last Dance for Me."
Thomas toured until the epidemic struck. "He was aging, but he was still active most weekends," Lemongello told The New York Times. "Unfortunately, he went from being active to being at home and he started going downhill."
Rita, his wife, daughters Crystal Thomas Wilson and Victoria Green, sons Charlie Jr., Michael Sidbury, and Brian Godfrey, as well as grandchildren and great-granchildren.
During this time, VIBE extends our sincere condolences to the Thomas family.