A Salute To B.J. Thomas

By Steven Lieberman

Observer Reporter

“Raindrops ‘were’ fallin’ on my head” at the Grammy Museum when B.J. Thomas took the stage to speak about his singing career in a special Q & A and performance

For six decades, Thomas, a five-time Grammy-winning artist, has been entertaining his fans with one of the most distinctive voices in American popular music. Along the way, he has made over 30 albums,

He caught the singing bug at a very early age. His dad would play a Hank Williams album and Hank would become one of Thomas’ early influences, along with Bobby Bland and Ricky Nelson. One of his fondest memories is attending a Hank Williams concert with his dad.

Thomas was born in Oklahoma, but his family soon moved to Houston, where at the age of 15 he would start his first band called The Triumphs. He still does a benefit concert with them every year in Texas.

The Triumphs’ first gig was opening for James Brown in Houston and then would go on to join the Dick Clark Tour where Thomas would sing his first hit “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” a cover of Hank Williams song. They did 96 shows in 100 days.

After his initial success with The Triumphs, Thomas decided to go solo and that’s when his career started to skyrocket. He signed with Scepter Records where the roster also included The Shirelles and Dionne Warwick. In fact, it was Warwick who introduced Thomas to songwriter-producer Burt Bacharach, leading to his performance of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” for the film “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.”

“The day I recorded the song for the film, I had laryngitis,” Thomas said. “The producers liked the way it sounded and decided to put it in the film. One month later I re-recorded the song with Burt for the single (record).”

In 1969, “Raindrops” won an Oscar for Best Original Song (“Butch Cassidy”) and then in 2013, the National Academy of Recording Sciences announced that Thomas’ single would be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

A year before Thomas had a hit with “Raindrops,” he achieved mainstream success with the song “Hooked on a Feeling,” written by Mark James. It became his second million-selling record. James also wrote the number one hit single, “Suspicious Minds” for Elvis Presley, his last hit song.

Then, in 1975, Thomas’ song, “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” went to No. 1 on the Hot 100 and secured him his fourth gold record.

His only regret is that he never sang a duet with Ricky Nelson.

Of the seven hit songs Thomas performed after the Q &A, “Happier Than The Morning Sun” had the most intriguing background story.

“This is the only song (“Happier”) that Stevie Wonder wrote and gave to someone else,” Thomas said.

If Stevie Wonder chose B.J. Thomas out of all the other possible artists, you know he must be special.


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