According to TMZ, DeBarge’s daughter, Marina said he suffered from liver and kidney failure, but recently his condition took a turn for the worse. He was hospitalized weeks ago. The crooner also had a battle with COVID-19 earlier this year. DeBarge’s brother, El, also confirmed the news via Instagram on Oct 22.
El wrote, “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.”
He continued, “My dear brother Tommy finally made his transition after a lengthy illness. 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.”
DeBarge, and his brother, Bobby, founded Switch in 1975 and rose to fame with their hits, “I Call Your Name,” “Love Over & Over Again,” “I Wanna Be Closer,” and “There’ll Never Be,” which became a Top 10 R&B hit. It also became the band’s biggest success on the Billboard Hot 10, peaking at No. 36.
Bobby died at age 39 in August 1995 due to AIDS-related complications.
Switch inspired bands like Mint Condition and Tony, Toni, Toné. Tommy and Bobby left Switch to mentor their siblings in the family band, DeBarge, and founding member of Switch, Philip Ingram went on to continue the band with new members.
VIBE sends our deepest condolences to the DeBarge family during this time.