’70s hitmaker B.J. Thomas died on May 29th of lung cancer at age 78. Thomas who died in his home in Arlington, Texas, revealed his Stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis to fans back in March, is survived by his three daughters and his wife of 53 years, Gloria.
B.J. Thomas, who was able to move with ease between multiple genres, including pop, country, Christian — with both ballads and uptempo tracks — will forever be known for his hits “Hooked On A Feeling,” “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” among others.
“Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” the signature song from 1969’s Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid movie, earned Thomas a four-week Number One hit, toppling “Someday We’ll Be Together” — the Supremes‘ final single with Diana Ross — from the top spot. The song went on to snag the 1969 Academy Award for Best Original Song. Over the course of his career, B.J. Thomas won five Grammy Awards in Gospel categories.
Thomas also reached a whole new generation of fans by singing the theme to the ABC sitcom Growing Pains. For the series’ first season, Thomas sang the song solo, and in subsequent years he performed the song as duet first with Jennifer Warnes, and then the late Dusty Springfield.
Back in March, B.J. Thomas released a statement to fans saying: “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. 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.”
Not too long ago, we caught up with B.J. Thomas and asked him if he ever felt comfortable singing along to pre-recorded tracks in the studio — as opposed to tracking the song live with the band: “No, I was in the studio for all those Memphis things. Y’know, I was a big part of what was goin’ on, but even with the (Burt) Bacharach things. . . (the) Bacharach – (Hal) David sessions, Burt was totally in control, but I was there vocally, every take and every run-down, and, y’know, I was doin’ my part, so. . . I’m not sure I’ve had any records that I did where they pre-recorded the tracks. I just don’t think that’s the way to do it and I don’t like to do it that way. A lot of producers’ll say, ”Well, we’re gonna cut this track (and) do that’ — but I don’t do it that way.”
B.J. Thomas told us that he never recorded a song he didn’t like — but he admitted there was one that he genuinely loved with all his heart: “I think I could’ve lived without ‘Raindrops (Keep Fallin’ On My Head),’ but man, I’m glad I didn’t have to live without ‘Hooked On A Feeling.’ I mean, ‘Hooked On A Feeling’ is one I love to sing, It’s the one that gets, really, the biggest audience response. Y’know, people are comin’ to see me and they want to hear ‘Raindrops’; there’s no way I can’t (not) do ‘Raindrops,’ and there’s no way I would want to not do it — but it’s almost like they’ve already heard it. And when I do it, it’s like ‘Okay, he’s doin’ it,’ y’know? But ‘Hooked On A Feeling’ elicits a huge response, and I just love that song.”