B.J. Thomas, known for his versions of "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" and "Hooked on a Feeling," passed away Saturday (May 29) at his home in Arlington, Texas from complications stemming from lung cancer. He was 78 years old.
Thomas was born in 1942 in Hugo, Oklahoma. His singing career was launched in 1966 after the pop group he led, The Triumphs, landed a single on the Billboard Hot 100 with their cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” It spent 13 weeks on the chart. This would prompt a full-length release for Thomas. It featured his hit Hank Williams cover, and the LP art was simply an image of Thomas alone and crying.
After four album releases, Thomas finally had another hit with 1969's "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head." It was penned and produced by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the buddy western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Thomas performed the song at the 42nd Annual Academy Awards in 1970. It featured Thomas in cowboy attire, dancers, and cycling choreography inspired by the film.
Thomas is also known for his early version of the song "Hooked on a Feeling," which he recorded in 1968 for his album On My Way. It was written by his childhood friend Mark James. The song was later popularized by Blue Swede in 1974. Thomas often crossed over between pop and country, and in 1975, his single "(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” reached No. 1 on both the country and pop charts.
After years of drug and alcohol abuse, Thomas converted to Christianity in the mid-70s and started on a path of recovery. The change also prompted a transition into gospel music, and he won a Dove Award for his album Home Where I Belong. All five of his Grammy wins were for religious-themed songs.
He sang at Elvis Presley's 1977 memorial service alongside Jackie Wilson and the man responsible for his fame: Hank Williams. Thomas recorded dozens of albums over the course of his decades-long career. His final studio album was 2013’s The Living Room Sessions.
Thomas announced back in March he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Gloria, and three daughters.
It is with profound sadness we confirm the passing of BJ Thomas. pic.twitter.com/l2zrmtfmKw— BJ Thomas (@TheBJThomas) May 29, 2021
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Article Image: B.J. Thomas performing in Kansas on April 20, 2019. (mark reinstein via Shutterstock.)