B. J. Thomas

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B. J. Thomas
B.J. Thomas 1972.JPG
Thomas in 1972
Background information
Birth name Billy Joe Thomas
Born (1942-08-07) August 7, 1942 (age 72)
Hugo, Oklahoma U.S.
Origin Houston, Texas
Genres Country, pop, contemporary Christian, rock, soft rock
Occupations Musician
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1966–present
Labels Scepter, Myrrh, Columbia, ABC, Paramount
Website www.bjthomas.com

Billy Joe "B.J." Thomas (born August 7, 1942, Hugo, Oklahoma) is an American popular singer. He is particularly known for his hit songs of the 1960s and 1970s, which appeared on the pop, country, and Christian music charts. His most well-known recording was the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head".

Career[edit]

Thomas was raised in and around Houston, Texas, graduating from Lamar Consolidated High School in Rosenberg. Before his solo career, he sang in a church choir as a teenager, then joined the musical group The Triumphs.[1] During his senior year he made friends with Roy Head of Roy Head and The Traits. The Traits and the Triumphs held several Battle of the Bands events in the early 1960s.

In 1966, B.J. Thomas and The Triumphs released the album, I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (Pacemaker Records). It featured a hit cover of the Hank Williams song, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry". The single sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.[2] The follow-up single, "Mama", peaked at No. 22. In the same year, Thomas released a solo album of the same name on the Scepter Records label.

Thomas came back to achieve mainstream success again in 1968, first with "The Eyes of a New York Woman", then five months later with the much bigger "Hooked on a Feeling", which featured the sound of an electric sitar and was first released on the album On My Way (Scepter Records). "Hooked on a Feeling" became Thomas's second million-selling record.[2] A year later Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid featured Thomas performing the Bacharach/David song "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head", which won the Academy Award for best original song that year and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1970. Sales of also exceeded one million copies, with Thomas being awarded his third gold record.[2] The song was also released on an album of the same name. Other hits of the 1970s were "Everybody's Out of Town", "I Just Can't Help Believing" (No. 9 in 1970, covered by Elvis Presley), "No Love At All", "Mighty Clouds of Joy", and "Rock and Roll Lullaby".

Thomas's earlier hits were with Scepter Records, his label for six years. He left Scepter Records in 1972 and spent a short period, in 1973 and 1974, with Paramount Records, during which time he released two albums, Songs (1973) and Longhorns & London Bridges (1974).

Thomas, performing at the Showcase Live, in Foxboro, Massachusetts, December 2012

In 1975, Thomas released the album Reunion on ABC Records, which had absorbed the Paramount label; it contained "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" (the longest titled No. 1 hit ever on the Hot 100). It was Thomas's first big hit since 1972 and secured him his fourth gold record.[2]

In 1976, Thomas released Home Where I Belong, produced by Chris Christian on Myrrh Records, the first of several gospel albums. It was the first Christian album to go platinum, and Thomas became the biggest contemporary Christian artist of the period.[3]

On MCA Records, Thomas and Chris Christian recorded what would be his last Top 40 hit single, "Don’t Worry Baby", on his last pop album, which also included the A/C hit "Still the Lovin' Is Fun".

During the 1980s, his success on the pop charts began to wane, but many of his singles reached the upper regions on the country singles chart, including two 1983 chart toppers, "Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Love" and "New Looks from an Old Lover" (see 1984 in music), as well as "Two Car Garage", which reached No. 3. In 1981, on his 39th birthday, Thomas became the 60th member of the Grand Ole Opry.[4]

Thomas scored another hit, recording "As Long As We Got Each Other", the theme to Growing Pains, with Jennifer Warnes. A later version, used for the show's fourth season, was recorded with British singer Dusty Springfield. Thomas first released this track on his 1985 album Throwing Rocks at the Moon (Columbia Records).

Thomas has also authored two books including the autobiography Home Where I Belong, and starred in the movies Jory and "Jake's Corner". Several commercial jingles including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Bell, have featured his singing voice and music. On December 31, 2011, Thomas was the featured halftime performer at the 2011 Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

On April 2, 2013, Thomas released The Living Room Sessions, an album with acoustic arrangements of well known hits. It features guest appearances with established and emerging vocalists accompanying Thomas on seven of twelve tracks.[5]

On December 3, 2013, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences announced that his 1969 single "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" would be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Thomas has been married to singer and songwriter[7] Gloria Richardson since December 1968.[8] They have three daughters, Paige (born 1970), Nora (adopted from Korea in 1978), and Erin (born in 1979). They also have three granddaughters.[9] Shortly after Thomas' career began, he became dependent on drugs and alcohol, which led to the marriage nearly ending and Thomas even coming close to death. Gloria became a Christian in 1975, and less than a month later, so did B.J.; most press sources indicate that Thomas has been sober since their separation was reconciled in 1976.[8][10][11][12]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Label
US US Country CAN
1966 I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry Scepter Records
Tomorrow Never Comes
1967 Sings For Lovers and Losers
1968 On My Way 133
1969 Young and in Love
Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head 12 10
1970 Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 90
Everybody's Out of Town 72 71
Most of All 67 44
1971 Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 92
1972 B. J. Thomas Country 209
Billy Joe Thomas 145
1973 Songs 221 Paramount
1974 Longhorns & Londonbridges
1975 Reunion 59 2 40 ABC
Help Me Make It (To My Rockin' Chair) 26
1976 Home Where I Belong Myrrh
1977 B. J. Thomas 114 39 MCA
1978 Everybody Loves A Rain Song
1979 Happy Man Myrrh
You Gave Me Love (When Nobody Gave Me a Prayer) Word
1980 The Best Of B.J. Thomas Myrrh
For The Best MCA/Songbird
In Concert
1981 Amazing Grace Word
Some Love Songs Never Die MCA
1982 As We Know Him
Miracle Myrrh
Peace in the Valley
1983 Love Shines Priority
New Looks 193 13 Columbia
The Great American Dream 27
1984 ShiningA 40
1985 Throwin' Rocks at the Moon
You Gave Me Love (When Nobody Gave Me A Prayer) Myrrh
1986 Night Life Columbia
All Is Calm, All Is Bright
1987 Hey Won't You Play Another
Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song
MCA
1989 Midnight Minute Reprise
1991 As We Knew Him MCA
Jesus Hearted People
1992 Back Against the Wall Reprise
Rock & Roll Lullaby Trace
1994 Still Standing Here Laurie
1995 Precious Memories Warner Bros.
Scenes of Christmas Cross Three
1996 B. J. Thomas Sings Hank Williams and Other Favorites Buckboard
1997 I Believe Warner Bros.
Christmas Is Coming Home Warner Resound
1998 Sounds of Christmas Kardina
2000 You Call That a Mountain
2005 That Christmas Feeling Madacy
2006 We Praise: Glorify Thy Name Braun Media
We Praise: Just as I Am
2007 Home for Christmas Lifestyles
2009 Once I Loved Honeyman Music
2012 The Complete Scepter Singles Real Gone Music
2013 The Living Room Sessions 39 Wrinkled
  • AShining also peaked at No. 17 on the RPM Country Albums chart in Canada.

Singles[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Album
US AC US US Country US Christian (CHR)[13] CAN AC CAN CAN Country
1966 "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" 8 2 I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
"Mama" 22 12
"Billy and Sue" 34 23 Greatest Hits, Volume 1
"Bring Back the Time" 75 53 I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
"Tomorrow Never Comes" 80 89 Tomorrow Never Comes
"Plain Jane" 129
1967 "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)" 94 Sings For Lovers and Losers
1968 "The Eyes of a New York Woman" 28 29 On My Way
"Hooked on a Feeling" 5 3
1969 "It's Only Love" 37 45 24 Young and in Love
"Pass the Apple Eve" 97 78
"Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" 1 1 1 1 Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head
1970 "Everybody's Out of Town" 3 26 18 Everybody's Out of Town
"I Just Can't Help Believing" 1 9 18
"Most of All" 2 38 13 20 Most of All
1971 "No Love at All" 4 16 12 16
"Mighty Clouds of Joy" 8 34 25 26 Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
"Long Ago Tomorrow" 13 61 57
1972 "Rock and Roll Lullaby" 1 15 8 7 Billy Joe Thomas
"That's What Friends Are For" 38 74
"Happier Than the Morning Sun" 31 100
1973 "Songs" 41 Songs
1975 "(Hey Won't You Play) Another
Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song
"
1 1 1 1 3 2 Reunion
"Help Me Make It (To My Rockin' Chair)" 5 64 37 9 67 Help Me Make It (To My Rockin' Chair)
1977 "Home Where I Belong" 98 21 Home Where I Belong
"Don't Worry Baby" 2 17 1 12 B. J. Thomas
"Still the Lovin' Is Fun" 8 77 13 86
1978 "Everybody Loves a Rain Song" 2 43 25 11 43 34 Everybody Loves A Rain Song
1979 "We Could Have Been the Closest of Friends" 86 Released as single only
"God Bless the Children" 38 On This Christmas Night (various artists)
"Happy Man" 5 Happy Man
"What a Difference You've Made" 6
"He's Got It All in Control" 18
"From the Start" 20
1980 "Jesus on My Mind" 1 You Gave Me Love (When Nobody Gave Me a Prayer)
"The Faith of a Little Child" 7
"Walkin' On a Cloud" 30 For The Best
"Nothin' Could Be Better" 19
"Everything Always Works Out For the Best" 10
1981 "Some Love Songs Never Die" 34 27 Some Love Songs Never Die
"I Recall a Gypsy Woman" 22 47
1982 "Satan, You're a Liar" 6 Miracle
"But Love Me" 27 As We Know Him
1983 "Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Love" 13 93 1 1 New Looks
"New Looks from an Old Lover" 1 6
"Pray for Me" 4 Love Shines
"Two Car Garage" 44 3 1 The Great American Dream
1984 "The Whole World's in Love When You're Lonely" 10 15 Shining
"The Girl Most Likely To" 17 5
1985 "The Part of Me That Needs You Most" 61 57 Throwin' Rocks at the Moon
1986 "America Is" 62
"Night Life" 59 Night Life
1988 "As Long As We Got Each Other" (with Dusty Springfield) 7 Midnight Minute
1989 "Don't Leave Love (Out There All Alone)" 39
2000 "You Call That a Mountain" 66 You Call That a Mountain
2013 "I Just Can't Help Believing" (with Vince Gill) The Living Room Sessions

Guest singles[edit]

Year Artist Single Peak chart positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1984 "Rock and Roll Shoes" Ray Charles 14 15 Friendship

Awards[edit]

Year Title Award
1976 Home Where I Belong GMA Dove Award for Album by a Secular Artist
1977 Home Where I Belong Grammy Award for Best Inspirational Performance
1978 Happy Man Grammy Award for Best Inspirational Performance
1979 You Gave Me Love (When Nobody Gave Me a Prayer) Grammy Award for Best Inspirational Performance
1980 The Lord's Prayer Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary
With Andrae Crouch, The Archers (Janice, Steve, Tim), Cynthia Clawson, Dony McGuire, Reba Rambo, Tramaine Hawkins & Walter Hawkins
1981 Amazing Grace Grammy Award for Best Inspirational Performance
1981 Amazing Grace GMA Dove Award for Album by a Secular Artist
2014 "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" Grammy Hall of Fame Award

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wirt, John (2007-02-09). "The music never gets old for Thomas". The Advocate (Online). p. 2. Retrieved 2007-02-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 213, 250, 268 & 365. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  3. ^ Uncredited, Profile of B.J. Thomas; www.xentel.com.
  4. ^ Gary James, Interview with B.J. Thomas, 2005; www.classicbands.com.
  5. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2013). "B.J. Thomas The Living Room Sessions". The Living Room Sessions. AllMusic. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "2014 Grammy Hall of Fame". Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head. THE RECORDING ACADEMY. 3 December 2013. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "Gloria Thomas". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Jenkins, B.J. Thomas as told to Jerry B. (1982). Home where I belong ([Repr.] ed.). Waco, Texas: Word Books. ISBN 0849929059. 
  9. ^ "Billy Joe Thomas: From Then to Now". 
  10. ^ Kennedy, John W. "Conversation: B.J. Thomas". 
  11. ^ Rick, Coates (22 August 2011). "BJ Thomas". Northern Express. Retrieved 7 August 2014. "Recommitting himself to his religious upbringing in 1976 Thomas pursued Christian music, finding success on the charts but challenges on the road. Often blending his concerts with his Christian and pop songs, his secular music didn’t sit well with some in the audience." 
  12. ^ Howard, Kerbel (6 August 2014). "A Conversation With BJ Thomas: Love, Near Tragedy And A Song That Saved". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  13. ^ "Christian CHR National Airplay". The Nielsen Company. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 

External links[edit]