Peace Be With You: The Life and Music of Charlie Thomas

Today’s post is the latest in a series that seeks to celebrate those who have passed away after dedicating their lives to making our world better through music. Please join me in celebrating the life and music of a true gentleman and a very soulful singer, Mr. Charlie Thomas.

R & B and Soul singer Charlie Thomas passed away this week from stomach cancer. He was 85 years of age. The story of Charlie Thomas is one of the more interesting stories that I have told so far since I have started writing about the most famous songs of all time. In a previous post about the Drifters’ classic song, “Up On The Roof”(which you can read here), I discovered the unusual story behind the creation and subsequent evolution of the Drifters as a singing group. In order to appreciate the major role that Charlie Thomas had in the world of R & B and Soul music in America, I strongly urge you to stop where you are and read the previous post about “Up On The Roof”.

The Five Crowns. Note: Charlie Thomas is at the bottom of the frame and the man listed as “Ben Nelson” is, in fact, the man who later gained fame as “Ben E. King”.

The short strokes of his story are that Thomas was originally a member of a singing group in NYC known as The Five Crowns, along with Ben E. King and three others. At one point in the history of the original Drifters group, there arose a legal dispute about royalties and salaries that resulted in the entire band being fired. Ben E. King, Charlie Thomas and the rest of The Five Crowns were invited to replace them. They agreed and from that moment on they were known as Ben E. King and the Drifters. The vast majority of The Drifters’ biggest hit songs such as “Up On The Roof”, “Under The Boardwalk”, etc…, were recorded by Charlie Thomas and his friends under The Drifters banner. While the Drifters’ lineup remained in transition all through the rest of their history, Charlie Thomas remained as a talented, soulful, loyal member of the group right up until just recently when ill health finally silenced his golden voice.

Charlie Thomas was enshrined in The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 as a member of The Drifters. May peace be with you, Mr. Thomas. Thank you for living such a soulful life in harmony with others.

The link to the video for the song “Under The Boardwalk” by Ben E. King and the Drifters can be found here. ***The lyrics version is here.

The link to the official website for Charlie Thomas turned out to be a Facebook page. If you have FB then, you can find his page by searching for “Charlie Thomas’ Drifters”.

The link to the official website for The Drifters can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023