Charles Pope, co-founder of The Tams, died on Friday morning at his home in Atlanta at the age of 76. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s, a battle that had been documented on the reality series Tiny and Toya and T.I. and Toya: The Family Hustle on BET.
The Tams were formed in 1952 by Charles and his brother Joseph Pope along with Horace Key and Robert Lee Smith. They honed their craft until 1960 when they signed with Swan Records, adding Floyd Ashton to the lineup and changing their name to reflect the Tam O’Shanter hats that they wore when they performed.
In 1962, the group signed with Arlen Records and had their first hit with the Joe South song Untie Me which went to number 12 on the R&B and 60 on the Pop charts. The popularity of the record got them signed to ABC-Paramount Records where, in early 1964, they went to number 9 with their biggest hit, What Kind of Fool (Do You Think I Am).
The Tams continued to release records through ABC during the 60’s but never achieved a similar success, although the record Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy (1968 / #26 R&B / #61 Pop) has gone on to become a classic of the Carolina Beach Music scene. They also had a surprise number 1 song in the U.K. in 1971 with Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me.
The group continued to tour over the decades, especially in the U.K. and Europe, giving them another minor hit in England with There Ain’t Nothin’ Like Shaggin’) (1987 / #21) even though the BBC banned the song due to sexual connotations.
In 1999, the group guested on Jimmy Buffett’s album Beach House on the Moon and toured with him in support of the LP.
The group is a member of the Georgia Hall of Fame, the Atlanta Hall of Fame and the Beach Music Hall of Fame.
Pope is survived by his wife, Dianne and their children Tameka “Tiny” Harris (of Xscape who is married to rapper T.I.), Albert “Little Redd” Cottle and Michelle Pope.
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