aka B J Thomas, American vocalist

Born in Hugo, Oklahoma on August 7, 1942. Billy Joe Thomas was one of three children of father Vernon and mother Geneva Thomas, his siblings being brother Jerry and sister Judy Thomas.

The family moved to the Houston, Texas area when the kids were still young. They moved often during the children's younger years, but remained in close proximity to Houston.

Both Billy Joe and his older brother Jerry enjoyed baseball and singing in their church choir. When Billy Joe shortened his name to B J, it stuck and has remained with him ever since. He shortened it because there were simply too many Billy Joes on his Little League team.

At the urging of his brother Jerry young B J tried out for a local band. Landing a spot with "The Triumphs" led to B J becoming their lead vocalist. The band was a local success and attracted the attention of promoter Steve Tyrell. "The Triumphs" scored big for Scepter Records in 1966 with a remake of the Hank Williams classic "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry". The label wanted the band to tour but it was not to be. Band members had school and other matters keeping them close to home as well as having little desire to tour. B J Thomas broke with the band and pursued a solo career, appearing primarily with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars. He scored two more hits in 1966 with "Mama" and "Billy and Sue", earning Cashbox Magazine's award as Most Promising Vocalist of the Year>.

The following year (1967) was a dry spell for Thomas, producing no hit records. He rebounded in 1968 with "Eyes of a New York Woman" and the million selling "Hooked On A Feelin", his second million seller. It was fellow Scepter artist Dionne Warwick who would aid him by introducing him to composer Burt Bacharach.

Soon after signing with Scepter B J Thomas met his future bride, a young lady named Gloria. They were married in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 9, 1968. The couple had their first child, a daughter named Paige who was born in early 1970. The young family grew again with the adoption of a young Korean orphan in 1978, adding daughter Nora to the fold. Returning from Korea the young couple were suprised to find the family was about to expand again with the birth of daughter Erin in 1979.

The year 1969 saw him leap to # 1 on the pop chart when his song "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head" was featured on the smash hit film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". That song was written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. Bacharach was urged by Dionne Warwick to have Thomas sing some tracks for the movie score. Bacharach was reluctant but finally agreed. He had already been rejected by established artists Bob Dylan and Ray Stevens for the project. Bacharach gambled on the rising young star and they both won the jackpot. "Raindrops" rode the charts at # 1 for 4 weeks and remained on the best-seller list for 22 weeks.

Thomas followed up that # 1 hit with several other pop chart busters such as "I Just Can't help Believing". He also climbed the country charts with "(Hey, Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" and "Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love".

Among some of the accomplishments and honors garnered by this distinctive artist are the following:

B J Thomas is also the only artist ever to have Record of the Year on the Pop, Country, and Gospel charts. He has sold over 70 million records. He has 11 Gold Records, 2 Platinum Records, and 15 Top 40 Pop hits as well as 10 Top 40 Country Hits. B J Thomas became the 60th member of the Grand Ole Opry on his 39th birthday (in 1981).

Thomas still maintains an active schedule of performances. When not touring he enjoys golfing and reading.

Sources:
http://www.bjthomasfanclub.com/bjtfacts.htm
http://www.superseventies.com/1970_5singles.html
http://www.classicbands.com/BJThomasInterview.html

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