CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Charleston music fans are mourning the loss of Charlie Tee. 

“A very spiritual guy. A very smart guy. Incredibly caring,” said Carpenter Ants guitarist Michael Lipton. 

The Charleston music community lost one of its best-known singers to COVID-19. Charlie Tee of The Carpenter Ants passed away Saturday night at the age of 68. He sang and played saxophone with the band for 30 years.

His bandmates Michael Lipton and Ted Harrison said Charlie was like a brother. 

“Unfortunately, some of it comes to light after someone passes, how many people he touched and how many people he affected,” Lipton said. 

“He was such a wonderful friend and a good brother,” said Harrison. “We would talk on, talk, talk, talk, about all kinds of stuff.” 

They said Charlie loved his family and had a great way with people and kids. 

When Charlie first contracted COVID-19, friends and family thought he’d get better after a few days. He was fully vaccinated and had his booster. 

“He wasn’t messing around,” Lipton said Charlie was one of the first in line to get his vaccinations and booster. “This was not ‘he neglected taking care of himself.’” 

But a kidney transplant two years ago left Charlie with a weakened immune system and his health worsened. He lost his fight Saturday night. 

The Carpenter Ants have played without Charlie before, but they always knew he was coming back. This time is different. 

“We’re figuring out how to do it because none of us want to stop. And part of that I think you could say is you know, I mean we know he would not want us to stop,” Lipton said. 

“And I’m so thankful that we’ve been able to record and that’ll be our legacy and especially for Charlie too, how wonderful and strong a singer he was,” Harrison said. 

Charlie was originally from the Bronx and a huge Yankees fan. He was retired from the Kanawha County Library System and leaves behind his wife Lynn, six children and 32 grandchildren.