Banner Thomas, a musician who was the original bassist for the platinum-selling Southern rock band Molly Hatchet, died Monday, April 10, 2017, of a heart attack, according to multiple news sources. He was 60.
The band, founded in 1975 by guitarist Dave Hlubek in Jacksonville, Florida, is known for its hit song “Flirtin’ With Disaster.” The group announced Thomas’ death via its official Facebook page:
“Molly Hatchet bassist, Banner Thomas passed away this morning. From 1978 – 1983, Banner played on the first four MH albums, including the hit Flirtin’ With Disaster. He left the band and was replaced by Riff West, also deceased, who played on the next 5 albums. Tim Lindsey has been the bassist for nearly fifteen years and continues to carry the torch forward. Our prayers and condolences extend to Banners family and friends. RIP”
According to posts on his own Facebook page, Thomas had been treated for pneumonia just days before he died. He had plans to resume playing concerts with his current band, Those Guys, also based in Jacksonville.
Thomas, who was born Sept. 6, 1956, in Orange Park, Florida, played on Molly Hatchet’s first four studio albums: “Molly Hatchet” (1978), which went platinum; “Flirtin’ With Disaster” (1979), which sold more than 2 million copies; “Beatin’ the Odds” (1980), another platinum success; and “Take No Prisoners” (1981), which peaked at No. 36 on the U.S. albums chart.
Thomas left Molly Hatchet in 1983, moving on to co-found the group Big Engine. In a 2002 interview, he explained to Philippe Archambeau why he quit the band.
“We all started thinking we were stars, and that drove wedges into the cracks that started forming,” Thomas said. “I was as guilty as anybody else. I got into an argument with Dave, got mad, and quit.
“Do I regret it today? Yes and no. I’m sorry I quit the way I did, when I did, but it looks like I picked a good time to get out. Not long after, under pressure from management and the record company to produce more hit singles, the band started to lose its identity, and started to look like Loverboy. I’m glad I wasn’t there for that.”