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Singer B.J. Thomas (1942-2021)


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The versatile  singer B.J. Thomas, who performed the 1969 Academy Award-winning song "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," died Saturday at his home in Arlington, Texas at the age of 78. He had been suffering from Stage IV lung cancer.

The Oklahoma-born recording artist, whose full name was Billy Joe Thomas, performed songs in the pop, country and gospel genres. He won five Grammy Awards for gospel or inspirational recordings.

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In 1969, Thomas had a Top 5 Billboard hit with the song "Hooked on a Feeling," which was distinctive because of  the electric sitar played by Reggie Young. Written by Mark James, the tune was later covered by the British singer Jonathan King (in 1971) and the Swedish pop group Blue Swede (in 1974. The Blue Swede version went to No. 1 on Billboard's pop chart.

Burt Bacharach composed the score for the 1969 Paul Newman-Robert Redford Western buddy film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," which became the year's highest-grossing release. He and his frequent partner Hal David also wrote the song "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," which was performed by Thomas during the famous bicycle scene that featured Newman and Katharine Ross.

Unfortunately for Thomas, he had just recovered from a bout with laryngitis on the day the film version of the song was recorded, But his record version was a No. 1 Billboard pop hit for four weeks in January 1970. It also was the No. 1 song on Billboard's adult contemporary chart for seven weeks. In 2014, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presented the Grammy Hall of Fame Award to Thomas' version of "Raindrops."

At the 42nd Academy Awards ceremony held on April 7, 1970, Bacharach and David won Oscars for their contributions to "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." Bacharach received the award for Best Original Score (not a musical) and shared Best Original Song honors with David.

Bacharach and Thomas collaborated again for the song "Everybody's Out of Town," the title track from the singer's 1970 album. The song was a No, 3 hit on Billboard's adult contemporary chart and reached No. 26 on Billboard's pop chart.

Also in 1970, Thomas had a hit song with "I Just Can't Help Believing," which was written by the songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Thomas' version reached the No. 9 spot on Billboard's pop chart. It also went to No. 1 on the publication's adult contemporary chart. Elvis Presley covered  the song a year later.

Thomas co-starred with Robby Benson in the 1973 coming-of-age screen Western "Jory." It was Benson's debut film.

Westerns on the Blog: Jory

In 1975, Thomas had another No. 1 hit with the cleverly titled "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song." The tune won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song (awarded to composers Larry Butler & Chips Moman). 

Thomas' song "As Long As We Got Each Other" (performed at different times with Dusty Springfield and Jennifer Warnes) was used as the theme music for the ABC hit sitcom "Growing Pains." The series ran from 1985 to 1992.

 

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Thanks for your music and light, B.J. Thomas. In 96, he invited baby Sara out of the audience to sing and set me on my path. His encouragement and warmth made me believe that a career in music was something not only attainable but absolutely natural. Class act and inspiration.
 
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In the most experimental decade in music history, B.J. Thomas scored one of the biggest hits with a mainstream pop classic. His song was a perfect compliment to Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and one of the first songs I remember.
 

 

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B.J. Thomas sang some of my favorite 70’s songs - including his classic “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head” from one of the best films of all time, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. I used the same song in the CLERKS II go-karts scene, so his art made my art better. #RIP
 
 
 

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RIP B.J. Thomas, an Oklahoman who sang the song I've always thought could've been written for my wife Ernestine - "The Eyes of a New York Woman." It has always been our song. Just listened to it again. Tears welled.
 
 
 
Aw, one of the great pop voices, B.J. Thomas passed away. Great voice. A shame.
 
His version of ‘Don’t Worry, Baby” is a classic.
 
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Never a fan I can't honestly say Mr. Thomas didn't have a fine singing voice.  Only eight years my senior, his passing at such a young age, when a lot of other celebrities recently have been passing in their 90's,  does make it seem kind of unfair in a way.  And probably more so to his still loyal fans. 

Rest In Peace, Mr. Thomas.

Sepiatone

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B.J. Thomas sang the National Anthem at Texas Rangers baseball games in Arlington, Texas on several occasions. I was there for a particularly moving experience one Friday night in October 2011. As he began to sing, a cloud burst rolled over the ballpark, and the rain poured down while the "Raindrops" man carried on. Upon completion, the Color Guard marched from the position they'd held near the mound, and the grounds crew rolled out the tarp. Nearly immediately upon completion of their task, the rain stopped and the skies cleared. It was as if the angels had signaled their appreciation and love. 

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According to the obituary in the local paper, B.J. Thomas began using "B.J." as his name because so many other boys in Little League were also named Billy Joe. Only in the South! Thomas was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Houston.

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Sad news. I was a fan during his peak years on the Scepter label (mid 60s through the mid 70s) I didnt follow him to his country period later. Great voice. I have several compilation cds of his. Nice looking guy too.

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Sorry to hear. I have two B.J. Thomas songs in my iTunes collection: "Billy and Sue" (officially credited to the Triumphs or maybe B.J. Thomas & the Triumphs, 1966) and "Hooked on a Feeling" (1968). "Raindrops" is certainly worthy. I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

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2 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

He sang another movie song, the title tune from Long Ago Tomorrow (1970). The movie is mostly forgotten, a British film with Malcolm McDowell, about two paraplegics falling in love. The song is very good though. 

 

Yes.  I've never seen the film. Have always wanted to. It received scant release at the time and I'm not sure it was ever shown on tv (maybe HBO or some pay channel) It did get good reviews. Bryan Forbes film starring his wife, Nannette Newman and Malcolm McDowell

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I went to a Christian college for one year and while I was walking with a friend we passed two people

talking to one another. One of them said something like I heard B.J. Thomas did an un-Christian thing.

They passed by and I never found out what the thing was. Later on my friends and I always made fun 

of Thomas' two initials. Teens can be immature.

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It stood for Billy Joe. But I remember jokes about the initials......I first became aware of him when Eyes of a NY Woman came out and he sang it on American Bandstand. From what I've read he'd been around for awhile, but I hadnt heard of him before that.

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Maybe that's why Billie Joe Armstrong spells out his name. I don't remember Eyes of a NY Woman at all.

I guess the first song I remember was Hooked on a Feeling. Then of course there was Raindrops. We didn't

like soft rock at the time, but looking back those are pretty good pop songs. If the singer isn't also a songwriter

then he has to hope to find the right tune.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Vautrin said:

Maybe that's why Billie Joe Armstrong spells out his name. I don't remember Eyes of a NY Woman at all.

I guess the first song I remember was Hooked on a Feeling. Then of course there was Raindrops. We didn't

like soft rock at the time, but looking back those are pretty good pop songs. If the singer isn't also a songwriter

then he has to hope to find the right tune.

 

 

 

Yeah, I think Hooked On A Feeling was his next hit after NY Woman. I guess he was part of a group before that. I dont remember I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, the hit before NY Woman. He had quite a few hits once he got airplay.

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