Timmy Thomas

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Timmy Thomas
Thomas at SXSW 2016
Thomas at SXSW 2016
Background information
Birth nameTimothy Earle Thomas
Born(1944-11-13)November 13, 1944
Evansville, Indiana, U.S.
DiedMarch 11, 2022(2022-03-11) (aged 77)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • record producer
Years activeEarly 1960s–1990s

Timothy Earle Thomas (November 13, 1944 – March 11, 2022) was an American R&B singer, keyboardist, songwriter, and record producer, best known for the hit song, "Why Can't We Live Together".[1]

Life and career[edit]

Thomas was born in Evansville, Indiana, on November 13, 1944,[2] one of twelve siblings.[3] He first attracted interest in his work as an accompanist with Donald Byrd and Cannonball Adderley, before working as a session musician[1] in Memphis, Tennessee, and releasing singles on the Goldwax Records label. He had little solo success until he moved to Glades Records in Miami, Florida, and in late 1972 he released "Why Can't We Live Together".[1] The record topped the U.S. Billboard R&B chart, made the top three on the Billboard Hot 100, and top 20 in other countries including the United Kingdom[2] where it peaked at number 12 on the UK Singles Chart.[4] This disc sold over two million copies.[2]

He was earlier part of a group called Phillip & the Faithfuls, which also included the singer Phillip Reynolds, releasing material for the Goldwax imprint, including "Love Me", "What'Cha Gonna Do" and "'If You Love Her" (all in 1964).[citation needed] He then became a session musician in Memphis, continuing to release solo sides for Goldwax, including "Have Some Boogaloo".[citation needed] He also released "It's My Life" in 1967. In 1970, he had switched labels to the Climax imprint and one side called "What's Bothering Me".[citation needed] Relocating to Miami, Florida, in 1972, Thomas played sessions for the TK group labels, signing to the Glades Records imprint, where, later that year, he released "Why Can't We Live Together".[5]

Thomas followed up the release with "People Are Changin'" (B-side "Rainbow Power") which reached the charts in 1973. In 1974, he released the album You're the Song I've Always Wanted to Sing.[citation needed] He went on to release six further Glades singles and then, in 1975 recorded a duet with Betty Wright entitled "It's What They Can't See".[citation needed] From 1976 through 1980, Thomas recorded singles for both the Glades imprint and the T.K. Disco label, including "Stone to the Bone", "Africano", "Touch to Touch", "The Magician", "Freak In, Freak Out" and "Drown in My Own Tears" and the albums The Magician (Glades, 1976) and Touch to Touch (Glades, 1977).[citation needed] He also continued to work on sessions for TK Records artists, including Gwen McCrae, and in later years as a producer.[6]

Thomas went on to record several R&B hits culminating in "Gotta Give a Little Love (Ten Years After)", a U.S. top 30 soul entry in 1984 for Gold Mountain Records.[1] Thomas appeared on Nicole McCloud's 1985 album What About Me?, singing on a duet with her called "New York Eyes". This track reached number 41 in the UK.[4]

In the 1990s, he worked as a producer for LaFace Records and released the album With Heart and Soul for DTM Records. Also, his song "(Dying Inside) To Hold You" was a hit in the Philippines, and gained further popularity in 2017 when it was covered by Darren Espanto for the film All of You.[citation needed]

In 2015, Drake sampled Thomas' signature hit, "Why Can't We Live Together", on his single "Hotline Bling".[7]

Thomas died of cancer on March 11, 2022, at the age of 77.[8][9]



Year Album Peak chart positions
US Pop
1972 Why Can't We Live Together[11] 53 10
1974 You're the Song I've Always Wanted to Sing[12]
1976 The Magician[12]
1977 Touch to Touch[12]
1979 Live[12]
1984 Gotta Give a Little Love (Ten Years After)[12]
1994 With Heart and Soul
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


Year Single Chart positions
US Pop
US Dance
1972 "Why Can't We Live Together" 3 1 25 12 6
1973 "People Are Changin'" 75 23
"Let Me Be Your Eyes" 107 48
"What Can I Tell Her" 102 19
1974 "One Brief Moment" 62
"I've Got to See You Tonight" /
"You're the Song (I've Always Wanted to Sing)"

"Deep in You"
1975 "Sexy Woman" 69
"Ebony Affair"
1976 "Love Shine"
"The Magician" (UK only)
1977 "Stone to the Bone" 74 12
"Touch to Touch" 32
1978 "Freak In, Freak Out" 92
1980 "Drown in My Own Tears"
1981 "Are You Crazy???" (Pt. 1) 73
1982 "My Last Affair"
1984 "Gotta Give a Little Love (Ten Years After)" 80 29 28
"Love Is Never Too Late" 90
1985 "New York Eyes" (with Nicole) 41
1990 "Why Can't We Live Together" (remix) 54
"(Dying Inside) To Hold You"
1991 "What Do You Say to a Lady" (with Jackie Moore)
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Soul Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 271. ISBN 0-85112-733-9.
  2. ^ a b c Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 322. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  3. ^ Hill, Rose (March 14, 2022). "R&B legend Timmy Thomas, whose song was sampled by Drake for Hotline Bling, dies". Daily Mirror. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 557. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  5. ^ Galloway, A. Scott (1993). Timmy Thomas - Why Can't We Live Together (Media notes). Narberth, PA: Collectables Records. COL-CD-5433.
  6. ^ McDonald, Steven. "Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  7. ^ Almeida, Celia (February 14, 2018). "After Drake Sampled Timmy Thomas' Song on "Hotline Bling," the Soul Singer Is on a Mission to Meet the Rapper". Miami New Times. Retrieved March 14, 2022.
  8. ^ Sandomir, Richard (March 15, 2022). "Timmy Thomas, Singer Whose Biggest Hit Was an Antiwar Anthem, Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  9. ^ ""Why Can't We Live Together" singer Timmy Thomas dies at 77". Soul Tracks. March 12, 2022. Retrieved March 12, 2022.
  10. ^ a b "Timmy Thomas - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on January 13, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  11. ^ "Why Can't We Live Together - Timmy Thomas | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved March 14, 2022.
  12. ^ a b c d e Burgess, Greg (2004). Timmy Thomas - You're The Song (I've Always Wanted To Sing) (Media notes). EMI Records.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 709. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 443.
  15. ^ "Chart History - Timmy Thomas: Dance Club Songs". Billboard. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  16. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 308. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  17. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 783. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
  18. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - February 17, 1973" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 11, 2012.

External links[edit]