B.J. Thomas, who sang ‘Hooked on a Feeling,’ ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,’ dies at 78

B.J. Thomas, the Grammy-winning singer who loved success on the pop, nation and gospel charts with such hits as “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and “Hooked on a Feeling,” has died. He was 78.

Thomas, who introduced in March that he had been recognized with stage 4 lung most cancers, died from problems of the illness Saturday at his residence in Arlington, Texas, his publicist Jeremy Westby stated in a assertion.

While he was receiving remedy in a Texas well being care facility, Thomas issued a assertion noting he was longing for a full restoration.

“I just wanted to take this unique opportunity to share my gratitude to Gloria, my wonderful wife and my rock for over 53 years, my family, friends, and fans,” he wrote.

“I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to record and perform beautiful songs in pop, country, and gospel music, and to share those wonderful songs and memories around the world with millions of you. I ask all of you for your prayers during this time and that my music can live on with you.”

‘How incorrect I used to be’: Robert Redford thought ‘Raindrops’ in ‘Butch Cassidy’ was ‘a dumb idea’

A Hugo, Oklahoma-native who grew up in Houston, Billy Joe Thomas broke by in 1966 with a gospel-styled cowl of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and went on to promote thousands and thousands of data and have dozens of hits throughout genres. He reached No. 1 with pop, grownup up to date and nation listeners in 1976 with “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.” The identical 12 months, his “Home Where I Belong” grew to become one of many first gospel albums to be licensed platinum for promoting greater than 1 million copies.

B.J. Thomas arrives at the Nashville Grammy Nominees celebration on Jan. 12, 2014, in Tennessee.

His signature recording was “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” a No. 1 pop hit and an Oscar winner for greatest authentic music as a part of the soundtrack to one of many greatest motion pictures of 1969, the irreverent Western “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Thomas wasn’t the primary option to carry out the whimsical ballad composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David; Ray Stevens turned the songwriters down. But his heat, soulful tenor match the music’s easygoing temper, immortalized on movie throughout the scene when Butch (Paul Newman) exhibits off his new bicycle to Etta Place (Katharine Ross), the girlfriend of the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford).

“Raindrops” has since been heard in all places from “The Simpsons” to “Forrest Gump” and was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2013. But, at first, not everybody was glad. Thomas was recovering from laryngitis whereas recording the soundtrack model and his vocals are raspier than for the observe launched on its personal. Redford, in the meantime, doubted the music even belonged in “Butch Cassidy.”

“When the film was released, I was highly critical – how did the song fit with the film? There was no rain,” Redford instructed USA TODAY in 2019. “At the time, it seemed like a dumb idea. How wrong I was.”

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B.J. Thomas is seen in a promotional image circa 1974.

B.J. Thomas is seen in a promotional picture circa 1974.

Thomas would later say the phenomenon of “Raindrops” exacerbated an dependancy to capsules and alcohol which dated again to his teenagers, when a file producer in Houston recommended he take amphetamines to maintain his power up. He was touring and recording consistently and taking dozens of capsules a day. By 1976, whereas “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” was hitting No. 1, he felt like he was “number 1,000.”

“I was at the bottom with my addictions and my problems,” he stated in 2020 on (*78*) He cited a “spiritual awakening,” shared together with his spouse, Gloria Richardson, with serving to him to get clear.

Thomas had few pop hits after the mid-Nineteen Seventies, however he continued to attain on the nation charts with such No. 1 songs as “Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Love” and “New Looks from an Old Lover.” In the late Nineteen Seventies and early ’80s, he was additionally a prime gospel and inspirational singer, profitable two Dove awards and 5 Grammys, together with a Grammy in 1979 for greatest gospel efficiency for “The Lord’s Prayer.”

Fans of the Eighties sitcom “Growing Pains” heard him because the singer of the present’s theme music. He additionally acted in a handful of flicks, together with “Jory” and “Jake’s Corner” and toured typically. Recent recordings included “Living Room Music,” that includes cameos from Lyle Lovett, Vince Gill and Richard Marx. He had deliberate to file in 2020 in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, however the periods had been delayed due to the pandemic. 

Thomas married Richardson in 1968, and had three daughters: Paige, Nora and Erin. He and his spouse labored on the 1982 memoir “In Tune: Finding How Good Life Can Be.” His guide “Home Where I Belong” got here out in 1978 and was co-authored by Jerry B. Jenkins, later well-known for the million-selling “Left Behind” spiritual novels written with Tim LaHaye.

Speaking to the Arizona Republic, a part of the USA TODAY Network, in 2019, Thomas mirrored on the prospect of retiring from music at some point. 

“If I reach a point where I don’t feel like I’m performing as well, I guess that could happen,” he stated. “I am getting older; it’s inevitable my throat is aging as well. Maybe there will come a time at some point, but you know as long as I’m really having fun and I still do have a major motivation to do it, I just want to do it.”

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Besides music, Thomas cherished baseball as a child and began calling himself B.J. as a result of so many Little League teammates additionally had been named Billy Joe. By his teenagers, he was singing in church and had joined a native rock band, the Triumphs, whom he would stick with into his 20s. He loved Ernest Tubbs, Hank Williams and different nation performers his mother and father favored, however on his personal he was impressed by the soul and rhythm and blues singers he heard on the radio or noticed on stage, notably Jackie Wilson, whose hit ballad “To Be Loved” Thomas later lined and adopted as a sort of information to his life. 

“I was raised in a fairly dysfunctional situation and I went through years of intense alcoholism and drug addiction so the song was always a touchstone for me. When you open yourself up to drugs and alcohol at such a young age it becomes something you have to deal with the rest of your life,” he instructed the Huffington Post in 2014. 

“What a road block and heartbreak and times of failure these addictions have caused me. But I had that little piece of lightning from that song. That’s the essence of the whole thing. To love and be loved. And that takes a lifetime to accomplish. It’s always been an important part of my emotions.”

Contributing: Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY; Ed Masley, Arizona Republic; and the Associated Press

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This article initially appeared on USA TODAY: B.J. Thomas: ‘Hooked on a Feeling,’ ‘Raindrops’ singer dead of cancer

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