My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Country music’s fellow travelers: B. J. Thomas

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This is the second in a series of short articles about artists who, although not country artists, were of some importance to country music

WHO IS HE ?

Billy Joe (B.J.) Thomas (b. 1942) was born in Hugo, Oklahoma, but raised in Rosenberg, Texas, near Houston so he grew up surrounded by both pop and country music. Active in music during his teen years, his commercial breakthrough came when he signed with Pacemaker Records and released a very soulful (and not at all country) cover of the Hank Williams classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. The single sold over a million copies, reaching #8 on Billboard’s pop chart and #2 on the Canadian RPM pop chart. The success of this record caused Scepter Records to obtain B.J.’s contract. B.J. provided another twenty pop hits for Scepter before leaving at the end of 1972 including three number one adult contemporary hits in “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head “ (also #1 pop and #1 Canadian pop), “I Just Can’t Help Believing” (#8 pop) and “Rock and Roll Lullaby”.

The hits dried up for the next few years until he signed with ABC Records in 1975 and recorded “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song”. This record swept the boards reaching #1 on Billboard’s pop, country and adult contemporary charts and the top three on the Canadian pop and adult contemporary charts. This song marked B.J.’s first appearance on the country charts, although after this record, some of his pop records would appear on the country charts. During this period B.J. also started focusing on religious music, with his religious music being released on the Myrrh label and his pop material being released on ABC or MCA (which absorbed ABC).

WHAT WAS HIS CONNECTION TO COUNTRY MUSIC?

B.J. always was always more than a bit of a country boy and after the second wave of pop success subsided, he started pointing his efforts at the country charts. Two 1981 singles for MCA, “Some Love Songs Never Die” and his cover of Tommy Cash’s 1973 hit “I Recall A Gypsy Woman” both hit the top thirty. In 1983 Cleveland International Records released a pair of country chart toppers in “Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love“ and “New Looks From An Old Lover”. A third single, “Two Car Garage”, did almost as well reaching #3 and the fourth single “The Whole World’s In Love When You’re Lonely” made it to the country top ten. After that, B.J. appeared on Columbia which started pointing him back into a pop direction with “(Hang Up) My Rock And Roll Shoes”, a duet with Ray Charles

Since 1985, B.J. Thomas has remained active as a performer making appearances at venues as diverse as Las Vegas and the Grand Ole Opry (he’ll appear June 26, 2013), with a share of large theaters, county fairs and private appearances thrown in.

You can check B.J.’s official website for tour dates and merchandise – he has some interesting new recordings available.

B.J. Thomas also has a very active fan club.

B.J. and his wife Gloria have been married since December 1968 with three children and five grandchildren.

One response to “Country music’s fellow travelers: B. J. Thomas

  1. Richie June 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    B.J. Thomas was actually a member of the Grand Ole Opry for a brier period in the early 1980’s.

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