Charlie Thomas, who as part of The Drifters kept alive such hits as “There Goes My Baby” and “Under the Boardwalk” for new generations, died on Jan. 31 at his home in Bowie, Md. He was 85.
His friend, singer Peter Lemongello Jr., said the cause was liver cancer.
Thomas was a Drifter for more than 60 years, touring with the group until the pandemic closed the nightclub and concert circuit. Thomas, a tenor, was an integral part of the group as they churned out such hits as “There Goes My Baby,” “Under The Boardwalk,” “Up on the Roof,” and “Saturday Night at the Movies,” among others. “Save The Last Dance For Me” reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, the group’s only chart-topper.
Thomas sang lead on “Sweets for My Sweet,” which reached No. 16 on the Hot 100 in 1961, and “When My Little Girl Is Smiling,” which peaked at No. 28 the next year.
As with most groups of the era, personnel changed over the decades and splinter groups claimed to be the legitimate heirs of the original members. Thomas ended his career fronting Charlie Thomas’s Drifters.
Thomas is survived by his wife, Rita Thomas; his daughters, Crystal Thomas Wilson and Victoria Green; his sons, Charlie Jr., Michael Sidbury and Brian Godfrey, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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