BJ Thomas, singer best known for “Raindrops Keep Fallin ‘on My Head”, dies at the age of 78
BJ Thomas, the singer best known for his version of Raindrops Keep Fallin ‘on My Head, has died, the New York Times reported. Thomas died of complications from lung cancer at his home in Arlington, Texas on Saturday (May 29), the Times notes. Thomas was 78 years old.
Thomas was born in Hugo, Oklahoma, in 1942. As a child, he sang in the local Baptist church and eventually joined a pop group called The Triumphs with his older brother Jerry. The group (before Thomas) landed a Pop Top 10 single with their cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonely I Cry”. The single effectively kicked off Thomas’ solo career; In 1965, Scepter Records released a full-length version of Thomas’ version of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (the LP art was simply a picture of Thomas alone and crying).
Thomas released four albums between his solo debut and the record that would bring his biggest hit: 1969’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin ‘on My Head”. The song was written and produced by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the classic buddy western (and Paul Newman / Robert Redford vehicle) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. “Raindrops” play during a famous scene in which Cassidy (Newman) takes Etta Place (Katherine Ross) to cycle. Thomas played the song at the 42nd Annual Academy Awards in 1970, where dancers and cycling choreography were inspired by the film.
Besides “Raindrops”, Thomas’ most famous single is his early version of “Hooked on a Feeling”, which he recorded for his 1968 album “On My Way”. Thomas’ style fluctuated between pop and country, and his songs were often well received by audiences for both genres. In 1975 his single “(Hey, don’t you want to play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” reached number 1 in both the country and pop charts.
In the mid-1970s, Thomas converted to Christianity and began a path to recovery after years of drug and alcohol abuse. In 1977 he sang at the memorial service for Elvis Presley, who, along with artists such as Hank Williams and Jackie Wilson, had a noticeable influence on Thomas’ work. Thomas has recorded dozens of records over the course of his decades-long career. His last studio album to be officially released was The Living Room Sessions in 2013.