B.J. Thomas

  • Pop, country and Contemporary Christian singer born Billy Joe Thomas in 1942 in Hugo Oklahoma. Died in 2021 of lung cancer.
  • Thomas grew up in the Houston area, listening to a wide variety of music, from traditional country by artists like Hank Williams to soul/R&B by artists like Little Richard and Jackie Wilson. He sang in his church choir, and in high school he joined a band called the Triumphs. The group frequently competed in Battle of the Bands contests.
  • In 1966, a local record label signed the Triumphs and they released several singles that did not sell. Later that year, Thomas recorded an album as a solo artist titled I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, a cover of the Hank Williams song. Thomas’ version became a hit, selling over a million copies and reaching #8 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • He recorded several minor hits between 1966 and 1968. Late in 1968, Hooked On a Feeling was released and it reached #5 on the Hot 100 (the cover by Blue Swede, famous for its “ooga chaka” intro, would top the chart in 1974).
  • In 1969, Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote the song Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head for the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The vocals for the song were initially offered to Ray Stevens, who declined to record it. After Bob Dylan also passed, Thomas was given the song. It became his signature song, topping the Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts, and eventually it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014.
  • His next seven singles released between 1970 and 1972 all were top 20 hits on the Easy Listening chart, including two #1 singles – I Just Can’t Help Believing and Rock and Roll Lullaby. After several less successful years, he moved to a country music sound. He rebounded in 1975 with his final hit to top the Hot 100 chart – (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song. The song holds the distinction of the longest titled #1 song in the history of the Hot 100 chart. it also topped the Country chart, and its songwriters won a Grammy award for Best Country Song.
  • Thomas continued to chart on the Easy Listening and Country charts for several years. In 1976, he became a born-again Christian, and he began to record Contemporary Christian music, along with his country and crossover pop music. That year, he released the Home Where I Belong album, which won a Grammy award for Best Inspirational Performance. He won four more Grammy awards between 1978 and 1981 in the Gospel category.
  • He continued to release gospel and country music in the 80s, and two singles topped the Country chart in 1983 – Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love and New Looks from an Old Lover. He voiced the theme song As Long As We’ve Got Each Other to the television show Growing Pains during its run from 1985 to 1992, and he wrote two books, including his autobiography Home Where I Belong. 
  • Thomas actively toured and released new music well into his sixth decade in the music business. In March 2021, he announced that he had stage four lung cancer, and two months later, he died. Here’s B.J. Thomas after he went country, with (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song. Apparently, the insiders in Country Music liked him – he was invited into the Grand Ole Opry in 1981, the 60th member of that exclusive group.

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