After a long, successful career with The Drifters, legendary singer Charlie Thomas is dead at 85. His friend and fellow singer Peter Lemongello Jr. confirmed his death on Instagram on Monday, January 31, 2023, admitting the loss of his best friend left him devastated.
The icon began the post by expressing how shattered and devastated he was by Charlie’s death, also pointing out that he was the last surviving original record member of the singing group. Going further, Peter explained that the late idol stayed with the group longer than any member in history, and had his name on more hit records. The star highlighted more of Charlie’s accomplishments, including his induction into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. He continued:
“I have so many fond memories that we have spent together through much of my life growing up, that I will cherish forever. I can still hear Carlie proclaim, ‘Peter Is A Star!’ which he could often tell me and whoever was around. I’ll miss you forever Charlie! Love you always.”
While the circumstances under which Charlie Thomas was found dead remain unclear, Peter granted a later interview with The New York Times, where he revealed the cause of death as complications from Liver cancer.
Charlie Thomas Had A Successful Career With The Drifters
Charlie Thomas sang with the “new” Drifters from the group’s inception in 1958, releasing such hits as Under the Boardwalk, There Goes My Baby, and Sweets For My Sweet. His story with the group began at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, after The Drifters’ manager George Treadwell, fired all his band members over their drunken escapades. The same night, he recruited Charlie Thomas, Ben Nelson (Ben E. King), and three others, who belonged to a struggling group called The Five Crowns. Thus began their journey as The Drifters.
Interstingly, this revamped group also took on the concert dates of their predecessors. Despite receiving a cold reception from fans at the onset, the group eventually managed to captivate hearts, attaining more success than the original Drifters. Over the years, four of the group members have succumbed to the hands of time. With Charlie Thomas dead, the memories of the iconic singing band would continue to echo through their musical legacy and hundreds of hit tracks.