Billy Joe Thomas was born on August 7th 1942 in Hugo, Oklahoma. During his long career he has straddled the line between Pop/Rock and Country, achieving success in both genres in the late '60s and '70s. At the beginning of his career, he leaned more heavily on Rock 'n' Roll, but by the mid-'70s, he had turned to Country music, becoming one of the most successful Country/Pop stars of the decade. Since the mid-1960s, when he became one of the most successful artists on the American musical landscape, he has recorded an incredible string of successes with fifteen Top 40 Pop hits, ten Top 40 Country hits, five Grammys, two Dove awards, two Platinum and eleven Gold records. He has scored chart-toppers on the Pop, Country, Gospel and Adult Contemporary charts. Along the way, his has become one of the most recognized and respected voices of his generation.
Thomas began singing while he was a child, performing in church. In his teens he joined the Houston-based band The Triumphs, who released a number of independent singles that did well on a local basis. For the group's last single, Thomas and fellow Triumph member Mark Charron wrote "Billy and Sue", which again failed to gain national attention. B.J. enjoyed his first real taste of success when he recorded the Hank Williams' standard "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" with producer Huey P. Meaux. Released by Scepter Records in early 1966, the single became an immediate hit, catapulting to #8 on the Billboard Pop chart. With an invitation to join Dick Clark's Caravan Of Stars tour, B.J. jumped at the chance while the rest of The Triumphs decided not to go, and Thomas split from the group.
Although he had a series of moderate follow-up hits, including a re-release of "Billy and Sue" (#34 in 1966), "Mama" (#22 in 1966) and "The Eyes Of A New York Woman" (#28 in 1968), Thomas failed to re-enter the Top Ten until 1968, when he found a song that could really show off his powerful voice. "Hooked on a Feeling" became a million seller, rising to number five on the nation's music charts. Label mate Dionne Warwick, who'd been working with the Burt Bacharach / Hal David songwriting team, recommended him for "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", which was written for the motion picture Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. "I was in the right place at the right time," B.J. says, "and probably got their best song ever." "Raindrops" was Bacharach / David's first million-seller. It won an Academy Award and B.J. sang the song on the 1970 Academy Awards telecast. It was followed by a string of Soft-Rock hits in the next two years, including "Everybody's Out of Town" (#26 in 1970), "I Just Can't Help Believing" (#9 in 1970), "Most Of All" (#38 in 1971) "No Love at All" (#16 in 1971) "Mighty Clouds Of Joy" (#34 in 1971) and "Rock and Roll Lullaby" (#15 in 1972), which featured guitarist Duane Eddy and The Beach Boys. Throughout the period he sold tens of millions of records and appeared regularly on TV programs like The Ed Sullivan Show and in top nightclubs and concert halls.
After "Rock and Roll Lullaby", Scepter Records went out of business and B.J. Thomas headed to Paramount Records. At Paramount, Thomas had no hits, prompting the singer to pursue a new Country-Pop direction at ABC Records. "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song", his first single for ABC, became his second number one record on the Pop charts in 1975, as well as establishing a Country career. He followed that success with "Help Me Make It To My Rockin' Chair", a moderate Pop hit. For the next decade, he continued to have hits on the Country charts with a couple of songs, most notably a cover version of the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby" (#17 in 1977) crossing over into the Pop charts. During this period he switched record companies at a rapid pace, but it did nothing to slow the number of his hits. Thomas hit his Country peak in 1983 and 1984, when he had the number one Country songs "Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love" and "New Looks From An Old Lover", as well as the Top Ten hits "The Whole World's In Love When You're Lonely" and "Two Car Garage".
Throughout the '80s, B.J. Thomas recorded a number of hit Gospel records for Myrrh, concurrently with his Country hits. One of them, "Home Where I Belong", went Platinum, making him the biggest contemporary Christian artist of the period. Over the next several years, he received two Dove awards and his Country success led him to become, on his 39th birthday, the 60th member of the Grand Ole Opry.
The 1990s found B.J. living in Arlington, Texas and although the hits had come to an end, he continued to put out the occasional Country and Gospel record, and performed in concert for his legions of adoring fans.
In 2000, B.J. had another chart single with "You Call That A Mountain", which made #66 on the Billboard Country chart, but since then he has not enjoyed another hit. In 2013 he recorded an album of duets called "The Living Room Sessions" that featured Richard Marx, Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, Isaac Slade and Steve Tyrell joining him on new renditions of his old hits. Thomas continued to travel the world and as of 2017, B.J. still maintained a busy touring and appearance schedule across the United States as well as internationally.
Be Sure To Read Gary James Interview With B.J. Thomas