BJ Thomas was christened with a name made for country music—Billy Joe. He was raised in Texas and vividly remembers attending a Hank Williams concert with his father when he was just a boy. His million-seller recording debut in 1966 was a cover of Hank’s classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
But his influences and success have hardly been limited to one genre of music. BJ Thomas’s eclectic body of work includes country, pop, soul and gospel. It is that diversity coupled with his distinct vocals and unique styling that make him a perfect fit for Wrinkled Records.
Thomas grew up singing in his church choir, but boasts that Jackie Wilson’s “Miss Ann” was the first single he ever purchased.
Two years after hitting the charts with Hank’s hillbilly weeper, he scored his second million-selling record, “Hooked on a Feeling,” a catchy pop sing-a-long. His biggest career splash came in 1969, with his recording of “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” the Burt Bacharach-Hal David composed tune for the film Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. Thomas’s performance drove the song to the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1970 and won the writers an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
He scored another #1 pop single in 1975 with “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.”
Called home to his roots in the church, Thomas released “Home Where I Belong” on Myrrh Records, the first of four Platinum gospel albums he would hang on his wall.
Next, he brought his talents to country music: “Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love” and “New Looks From An Old Lover” emphasized classic family ideals and commitment, as did the theme to Growing Pains, “As Long As We Got Each Other,” sung on the tube with Jennifer Warnes.
His lyrics aren’t just words to BJ Thomas. He’s lived out his musical ideals, turning down career opportunities for years when he thought they might interfere with the life he established in the Dallas area with his wife Gloria and their three daughters.
But an interesting confluence of events helped to recharge BJ’s career commitment. The girls grew up and left home. The emergence of “Raindrops” in a key scene in Spider-Man 2 underscored his continued place as a cultural touchstone. And he discovered through technology just how deep and loyal his fans’ commitment runs.
“One of the real catalysts behind this is an interview I did with an online disc jockey,” BJ explains. “He interviewed me and then put some music together for a one-hour package that could be accessed on the Internet, and he had 3.5 million downloads in three days.
“I’ve had a wonderful life, I’ve been a husband and a father and now I’m a grandfather, and I’m motivated to help my kids grow up with character and self-respect. That’s what it comes down to. It’s what I’ve tried to do with my music and with the majority of my life.”