"The Ebony Godfather"
Thomas played alto sax under Horace Henderson, but played tenor from the time he joined Stuff Smith's band onward. He played with Jimmie Lunceford's band from 1933 until Lunceford's death in 1947, where he soloed often and occasionally sang. After Lunceford died, Thomas and Ed Wilcox co-led his ghost band for a year. He played R&B in the early 1950s, but left the music industry to work in the family undertaking business in the middle of the 1950s. In the 1960s he started playing again occasionally, and recorded again under his own name in the late 1970s and early 1980s.