Saturday, May 29, 2021
– Five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee B.J. Thomas, died today at home in Arlington, Texas at the age of 78 from complications due to stage four lung cancer.
Thomas was best known for the songs the Grammy-winning "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" and "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," which won the Academy Award for best original song.
Thomas' career crossed multiple genres, including country, pop and gospel, earning him CMA, Dove, and Grammy awards and nominations. He had eight number one hits and 26 top 10 singles.
Other hits included "I'm So Lonesome, I Could Cry," "I Just Can't Help Believing, "Don't Worry Baby," "Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love," "New Looks From An Old Lover" and "Hooked on a Feeling."
Born in rural Hugo, Okla.,, Billy Joe Thomas moved to Houston with his family and where he grew up absorbing a variety of musical influences from the traditional country of Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams Dr. to the soulful sounds of Jackie Wilson and Little Richard, whose "Miss Ann" was the first single Thomas ever bought. He began singing in church as a child and in his teens joined the Houston-based band the Triumphs.
Thomas's first taste of success came in 1966 when he recorded "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" with producer Huey P. Meaux. Released by Scepter Records, it peaked at eight on the pop charts and became his first million-selling single. He released the follow-up single, "Mama," and delivered his first solo album that same year.
Thomas' second million-selling hit came in 1968 with the release of "Hooked on a Feeling" from "On My Way," his sophomore album for Scepter. During his days with the New York label, he became friendly with Ronnie Milsap and Dionne Warwick, who were also on the roster at the time. Warwick introduced him to songwriter-producer Burt Bacharach. In January 1970, Thomas topped the charts with "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head." Penned by Bacharach and Hal David, the song was featured in the classic Paul Newman/Robert Redford film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," earning the Oscar for best original song. Sales quickly exceeded two million copies. He followed that career-defining single with a string of pop/rock hits, including "Everybody's Out of Town," "I Just Can't Help Believing," "No Love at All" and "Rock and Roll Lullaby."
After six years with Scepter Records, Thomas signed with Paramount Records where he released two albums — 1973's "Songs" and 1974's "Longhorns & Londonbridges." In 1975, Thomas released the album "Reunion" on ABC Records, featuring "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song," which holds the distinction of being the longest titled number one hit ever on Billboard's Hot 100.
Thomas battled drug and substance abuse. His wife Gloria became a born-again Christian and the turning point in Thomas' life came when he became a believer in 1976. He immediately quit drugs and found an avenue for expressing his faith in gospel music. Thomas signed with Myrrh Records and released the album "Home Where I Belong" in 1976. Produced by Chris Christian, the project won Thomas a Grammy and became the first of two Dove Award wins. The album became the first gospel record to sell a million copies.
Thomas also enjoyed a run on the country charts in the 1980s with such hits as "Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love," "New Looks from an Old Lover Again," "The Whole World's in Love When You're Lonely" and "Two Car Garage." "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" was number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Country Songs charts. It won the Grammy for Best Country Song in 1976 and was nominated for CMA Single of the Year. On his 39th birthday in 1981, Thomas became the 60th member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Thomas also voiced the theme song, "As Long As We've Got Each Other," for the popular TV series "Growing Pains."
In 2013, he released "The Living Room Sessions," an acoustic album, which celebrated Thomas's nearly six decades in the music industry. The project featured Thomas dueting with other artists on his hits, which included teaming with Richard Marx for "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song," Vince Gill on "I Just Can't Help Believing," Sara Niemietz on "Hooked on a Feeling," Keb' Mo' on "Most of All," Lyle Lovett on "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" and The Fray's Isaac Slade on "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."
Thomas survived by his wife of 53 years Gloria, their three daughters Paige Thomas, Nora Cloud, and Erin Moore, and four grandchildren.