Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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THOMAS, B.J.

(b Billy Joe Thomas, 7 August 1942, Hugo OK) Soulful pop-country singer who straddled pop, gospel, country and easy-listening musical styles. Sang in local church choir during his teens and formed a high school band, B.J. Thomas & The Triumphs in Houston. He recorded for the local Bragg label '61, then Pacemaker Records '63-5; his contract was picked up by New York-based Scepter Records and he made the pop top 10 with 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' '66. Hickory released the earlier Bragg recordings, resulting in 'Billy And Sue' climbing the charts at the same time.

For the rest of the decade he was hardly off the Hot 100, with hits including 'Hooked On A Feeling' and 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head'. Drink and drugs affected his career moves, but he maintained the hits during the '70s, moving over to pop and country success with '(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody's Done Somebody Wrong Song' '74 on ABC. Two years later he kicked the bad habits and began recording Christian and country music. His Christian albums on Myrrh/Word won Grammy awards for Home Is Where I Belong '77, Happy Man '78 and You Gave Me Love (When Nobody Gave Me A Prayer) '79. He also had several country hits on MCA; moving to Cleveland International he made no. 1 country with 'Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love'. That label folded and he was absorbed into Columbia, then went to Reprise, but by the late 1980s his chart hits had dried up. Albums included Reunion '75 on ABC, B.J. Thomas Sings Hank Williams & Other Favorites '77 on Buckboard; Amazing Grace '81 on Myrrh/Word; New Looks and The Great American Dream '83 on Cleveland International; Throwing Rocks At the Moon '85, Night Life '89 on Columbia.