By Bruce Haring, Yahoo Entertainment | Five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee B.J. Thomas died today at his home in Arlington, Texas at 78. His death was confirmed on his official Facebook page and was attributed to complications from lung cancer.
A versatile songwriter, Thomas’s career spanned country, pop and gospel, earning him CMA, Dove and Grammy awards. He sold more than 70 million albums worldwide, scored eight No. 1 hits, and had 26 Top 10 singles over his 50 years in the music business.
His hits included a cover of the Hank Williams song “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” the Grammy winning “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” and the monster hit, “Hooked On A Feeling.”
Thomas was also named one of Billboard’s Top 50 Most-Played Artists Over The Past 50 Years. Other hits by the artist included “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love,” and “New Looks From An Old Lover.”
Born in rural Hugo, Oklahoma as Billy Joe Thomas, he moved to Houston, Texas with his family and began singing in church as a child.
He joined the local band the Triumphs, and then in 1966 recorded “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” with producer Huey P. Meaux. Released by Scepter Records, it peaked at No. 8 on the pop charts and became his first million-selling single.
The follow-up single, “Mama,” and his first album came that same year. In 1968, he released the million-selling “Hooked on a Feeling” from his album, On My Way.
Dionne Warwick met Thomas when he visited the Scepter offices in New York and introduced him to songwriter-producer Burt Bacharach. That led to a collaboration on “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” written by Bacharach and Hal David and sung by Thomas.
The song was featured in the Paul Newman/Robert Redford film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, earning the Oscar for Best Original Song. It has since reoccurred in such films as Forrest Gump, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Clerks II, and Spider-Man 2, as well as multiple TV shows.
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No information on survivors or a memorial was immediately available.
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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
1: Aleksandr Maykapar, 74, Russian harpsichordist, organist, and musicologist; Robert Rutman, 90, German-American visual artist and musician.
31: Firmino de Itapoan, 78, Brazilian sambista and composer; Lil Loaded, 20, American rapper and internet personality, suicide.
30: Dominguinhos do Estácio, 79, Brazilian samba musician (Unidos do Viradouro, Estácio de Sá, Imperatriz Leopoldinense), cerebral hemorrhage; Luisa Molina, 65, Bolivian folk singer, COVID-19.
29: B. J. Thomas, 78, American singer (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song”, “Hooked on a Feeling”), five-time Grammy winner, lung cancer; Johnny Trudell, 82, American composer and jazz trumpeter.
28: Zohra Abdullayeva, 68, Azerbaijani musician; Jimi Bellmartin, 71, Dutch singer; Bohuslav Maršík, 83, Czech bass singer and music educator.
27: Tiit Haagma, 67, Estonian sailor and musician (Ruja); Shantiraj Khosla, 54, Indian composer, COVID-19; Nelson Sargento, 96, Brazilian samba musician (Estação Primeira de Mangueira), COVID-19; Patrick Sky, 80, American singer-songwriter.
26: Kevin Clark, 32, American actor (School of Rock), traffic collision; Mykola Moshyk, 79, Ukrainian bandurist and music teacher, COVID-19.
25: Søren Holm, 25, Danish singer (Liss); Tõnu Kilgas, 66, Estonian baritone and actor (Rahu tänav, Those Old Love Letters), cancer; Rusty Warren, 91, American comedian and singer (Knockers Up!).