B.J. Thomas, the country music singer best known for the hits "Hooked on a Feeling" and "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," died Saturday. He was 78. Thomas' representatives told Variety he died at his Arlington, Texas home from complications of stage four lung cancer.
Thomas announced he was diagnosed with lung cancer in March. "I'm so blessed to have had the opportunity to record and perform beautiful songs in pop, country, and gospel music, and to share those wonderful songs and memories around the world with millions of you," he said in a statement on March 23. "I ask all of you for your prayers and that my music can live on with you."
It is with profound sadness we confirm the passing of BJ Thomas. pic.twitter.com/l2zrmtfmKw— BJ Thomas (@TheBJThomas) May 29, 2021
Thomas was born in Hugo, Oklahoma, and raised in the Houston area. He sang choir as a teenager before performing in several bands during the early 1960s. In 1966, his band The Triumphs released a hit cover of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Thomas released his first solo album that same year, but commercial success eluded him until 1968 when he released "The Eyes of a New York Woman" and "Hooked on a Feeling." In 1969, he was chosen to sing "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" for the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The song won Hal David and Burt Bacharach the Oscar for Best Original Song. The track was also a monster commercial success, selling over 1 million copies.
Some of Thomas' other hits include "Rock and Roll Lullaby," "I Just Can't Help Believing," "Everybody's Out of Town," and "Mighty Clouds of Joy." In 1976, he began recording gospel music, making him one of the top-selling contemporary Christian artists of the 1970s. In the 1980s, he continued earning country hits with "Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Love," "Two Car Garage," and "New Love from an Old Lover." He also joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1981. Thomas also performed "As Long as We Got Each Other," the theme song for Growing Pains.
Thomas earned several Grammy Awards during his career, including Best Inspirational Performance in 1977, 1978, 1979, and 1980. In 2014, the Recording Academy added his recording of "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" to the Grammy Hall of Fame. The singer is survived by his wife of 53 years, Gloria; their three daughters; and four grandchildren. Donations can be made in his memory to Mission Arlington, Tarrant Area Food Bank, and the SPCA of Texas.