Charlie Thomas, Oral History


The Five Crowns
CharlieThomas 2 min.mp3
Charlie Thomas.pdf

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Charlie Thomas, Oral History


Charlie Thomas,  (b. April 7, 1937, Lynchburg, Virginia) a singer with a couple of different versions of the “Drifters” vocal group, recording with the group from 1958 to the present and with a recording history going back to 1957 as the lead of Crowns, a New York City based vocal group, itself with roots to 1952. Charlie reflects on his early singing career. In the early 2000’s, Charlie was known to show up at bogus Drifters events and chase them off the stage for using the name illegally.


Charlie Thomas
Bob Friedman


Birmingham Black Radio Museum


July 14, 1989


Mark Usry
Emily Bibb





Oral History Item Type Metadata


Bob Friedman


Charlie Thomas


Transcript of audio snippet:

Bob Friedman: But, what I was curious about is if you remember being on the same show with the old Drifters when Treadwell had this big fight.

Charlie Thomas: Of course. It was Tommy Evans.

BF: Uh huh. Tommy Evans doin' the bass.

CT: Yeah, it was Gerhart Thrasher.

BF: Uh huh

CT: Jimmy Oliver playin' guitar.

BF: Right

CT: And “Little Dave”

BF: And “Little Dave”. Was Andrew Thrasher there?

CT: No, he wasn't.

BF: He wasn't. And so it's a quartet.

CT: Yes

BF: Uh huh. And what happened at this fight?

CT: Well, I wouldn't know exactly what happened.

BF: Oh you just know what happened after the fight.

CT: Yeah, I know that they gave us the name “Drifters” …that was it.

BF: Uh huh. Did George Treadwell just call y'all into an office and ask you, "How would ya like to be the new Drifters?"

CT: Well he settled it with our manager which was Lover Patterson.

BF: Oh Lover Patterson. Okay. Right. Lover Patterson was with The Five Crowns for...

CT: Patterson owned The Five Crowns.

BF: Yeah. Long was...So he ended up owning the name after the Clark Brothers left and Doc Green just stuck it out. And, how did y'all meet? Because Doc was with the original Five Crowns.

CT: Yeah

BF: And then, you guys...

CT: “Beary” Hobbs was with The Five Crowns.

BF: Who? Elsbeary?

CT: Yep.

BF: Really? When did he? Was he? Did he cut anything with them?

CT: Yep. His bass...almost...” A Star.”

BF: He was the bass on “A Star?”

CT: and “You Came To Me."

BF: and “You Came To Me."

CT: Yep.

BF: Whoa!

CT: and the Clark Brothers with Yunkie Lee.

BF: Right, and Yunkie Lee.

CT: "Yunkie" was their leader.

BF: Uh huh. "Yunkie" was the lead. Right. "Yunkie" Paul?

CT: Yep

BF: Yeah.


Full interview: 16 minutes
Audio snippet: 2 minutes


Charlie Thomas and Bob Friedman, “Charlie Thomas, Oral History,” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed March 25, 2019,

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