It’s been reported that Tommy DeBarge, a member of both the R&B outfit Switch and the famed DeBarge family, has died at the age of 64. According to TMZ, the vocalist and musician had been suffering from both liver and kidney failure for some time — he transitioned in the hospital after being admitted a couple of weeks prior. Tommy’s daughter, Marina DeBarge, also revealed that her father was one of many who battled COVID-19 earlier this year.
Alongside frontman Gregory Williams, Phillip Ingram, Jody Sims, Eddie Fluellen, and his brother Bobby DeBarge, Tommy helped bring Switch to life during the 70’s. It was during their time on Motown subsidiary Gordy Records when the band saw their biggest years of success, releasing the charting albums Switch, Switch II, Reaching for Tomorrow, This Is My Dream, and Switch V, the last of which made landfall in 1981. Both DeBarge brothers eventually left the group to support — and ultimately influence — their siblings’ R&B group DeBarge, working with them on their debut LP The DeBarges. Unfortunately, Bobby would later succumb to AIDS complications in 1995.
“I just learned the sad news of brilliant bassist Tommy DeBarge. I share my deepest condolences w/DeBarge family & w/Tommy’s Switch family. My appreciation of him really drove the start of my #switchrabbithole this year. May he rest peacefully. I only wish I could have met him.”
She continued on to reveal a fun fact about Tommy’s relationship with Williams:
“Tommy DeBarge was Switch’s original bassist, & his work should be discussed alongside other greats like Louis Johnson, Michael Henderson, Freddie Washington… His playing is a whole vibe & helped define Switch’s sound.”
Condolences go out to Tommy DeBarge’s family, friends, and loved ones.