Drifters Singer and Hall of Fame Inductee Charlie Thomas Passes Away at 85

A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee recently passed away.

According to The Los Angeles Times, longtime member of the R&B group, the Drifters, Charlie Thomas, has died at the age of 85. Thomas’ friend, Peter Lemongello Jr. confirmed that the singer passed away on Jan. 31 at his home in Bowie, MD.

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

He died after losing a battle with liver cancer.

The veteran performer was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 with his fellow Drifters Ben E. King, Bill Pinkney, Clyde McPhatter, Gerhart Thrasher, Johnny Moore, and Rudy Lewis.

According to U Discover Music, Thomas, who was born in Lynchburg, VA, started his singing career with a group named the Five Crowns. He and the other members of the group were recruited to become The Drifters after George Treadwell, who owned the group’s name, fired the original members in 1958.

Thomas performed with the group off-and-on for more than 60 years. The singer left the Drifters in 1967, but rejoined in 1988, when the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They recorded several hit records including, “There Goes My Baby,” “Under the Boardwalk,” “This Magic Moment” and “Save the Last Dance for Me.”

Thomas also recorded lead vocals on 1961’s “Sweets For My Sweet,” as well as the popular song, “When My Little Girl Is Smiling.”

He was also recognized with a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999.

A memorial service for Thomas has been planned for Feb. 16 at First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Landover, MD.

Thomas leaves behind his wife, Rita Thomas; his two daughters, Crystal Thomas Wilson, and Victoria Green; his three sons, Charlie Jr., Michael Sidbury and Brian Godfrey, along with numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.