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'Why Can't We Live Together' Singer, Timmy Thomas, Dies of Cancer at 77

R&B Legend Whose Anti-War Anthem Sampled by Drake for 'Hotline Bling' Dies 

Timmy Thomas, whose soulful plea for peace in the waning years of the Vietnam War, "Why Cant' We Live Together," made him a worldwide star — has died at the age of 77.

His wife, Lillie (Brown) Thomas, confirmed to the New York Times that the R&B singer died on Friday at a hospital in Miami of cancer.

Following his death, the family thanked fans and supporters on his official Facebook page Saturday.

“With appreciation and gratitude, the family extends a thank you for the prayers, support, precious words and other expressions of love and kindness during this time," read the post.

In 1973, "Why Can't We Live Together" hit No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B chart (No. 3 on the Hot 100). The hit made Thomas a star, and the record went on to sell over two million copies.

He drew inspiration for the song from the “CBS Evening News.” Thomas was watching Walter Cronkite relay the evening's death count from the Vietnam War in the summer of 1972 when he began to question himself.

Steve Terrell, CC BY 2.0, Performing at SXSW 2016 via
Wikimedia Commons

“I said, ‘what?!’ You mean that many mothers’ children died today?” He told Spin magazine in 2015. “In a war that we can’t come to the table and sit down and talk about this, without so many families losing their loved ones?’ I said, ‘Why can’t we live together?’”

The release has been covered several times by prominent musicians, including Sade, Santana and Steve Windwood. Its simple arrangement and healing message have become a protests staple. While its lasting influence in popular culture is undeniable, a fact showcased when rap superstar Drake sampled it for his hit 2015 No. 1 rap hit "Hotline Bling."

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