Tommy DeBarge, Co-Founder of R&B/Funk Band Switch, Passes Away at 64

Image: Instagram/@iameldebarge

Tommy DeBarge, a co-founder of the R&B/funk band Switch and member of the legendary DeBarge family, has passed away on Thursday at the age of 64.

DeBarge suffered from liver and kidney failure over the years, but his health drastically declined in recent days, according to TMZ. He passed away in the hospital just a few weeks after he was first hospitalized. Additionally, his daughter Marina DeBarge revealed her father struggled with COVID-19 earlier this year.

An accomplished bassist and vocalist, Tommy DeBarge along with his brother Bobby, rose to fame as a member of the band, Switch. During the mid-to-late 1970s, the group had a slew of hits such as “There’ll Never Be,” “Love Over & Over Again,” and “I Call Your Name” on Motown records.

In the early 80s, Tommy and Bobby left Switch to help their younger siblings launch a family band, DeBarge.

Under Tommy’s guidance, DeBarge would go on to release six albums, including All This Love, In a Special Way, Rhythm Of The Night. The group scored numerous Top 40 hits on the pop charts and Top 10 hits on the R&B charts.

Etterlene “Bunny” DeBarge remembered her late brother with a post of him playing the guitar in the clouds.

“Tommy has gained his wings,” she wrote in the Facebook post.

El DeBarge took to Instagram to share the news of the passing of his older brother.

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“And so it is that on October 21, 2021, I had to say farewell to one of the greatest bass guitarists this world has ever known, and I am grieved as I confirm to you that my brother, Thomas Keith DeBarge, passed away,” his post read.

“My dear brother Tommy finally made his transition after a lengthy illness,” he continued. “Tommy was a loving, gentle soul and a beloved son, husband, father, grandfather, and one of the best brothers anyone could ever ask for. His legacy will live on in the hearts of all those who love him so much and in the beautiful music he created with our brother Bobby, as well as that of his musical peers in the famous R&B group Switch! Both my brothers Bobby and Tommy DeBarge are together now safely in the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ, though our hearts are still heavy as it will require some time to deal with the fact that he is gone and just missing him so much.”

We at EBONY extend our prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Tommy DeBarge.

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