Billy Joe aka B.J. Thomas died yesterday at the age of 70 from lung cancer.
B.J. first came into the public eye with his million-selling cover of the Hank Williams’ classic I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry. His second gold record came two years later with the pop hit, Hooked on a Feeling.
The following year, Mr. Thomas was chosen to sing Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head which was featured in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The song earned the Academy Award as Best Original Song and and hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with sales of over one million copies. This earned BJ Thomas his third gold record.
BJ Thomas had another top ten hit that year with I Just Can’t Help Believing. In 1975, BJ Thomas earned his fourth gold record with (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song. From the very start of his career, Mr. Thomas dealt with alcohol and drug dependence. In 1976, BJ Thomas became a Christian and released his first (of several) gospel albums. It became the first gospel album to go platinum.
Unless you were alive in 1970, you cannot imagine how popular Keep Fallin’ on My Head was. It was all over the radio and tv. That song along with I Just Can’t Help Believing are my favorite songs by BJ Thomas. As impressive as his career was, it is equally as impressive that he was able to kick his dependency on drugs/alcohol and spoke freely about it. I’m sure he gave hope to others caught up in the same out of control spiral.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to BJ Thomas’ family, friends and fans.