1995 – WB Records Album – Precious Memories
B. J. Thomas (RIP) – Old Rugged Cross
Billy Joe Thomas (August 7, 1942 – May 29, 2021) was an American singer widely known for his pop, country, and Christian hits of the 1960s and 1970s. He made popular recordings of “Hooked on a Feeling” (1968), “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (1969), and “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” (1975).
In 1966, Thomas and the Triumphs released the album I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Pacemaker Records), featuring a hit cover of the Hank Williams song “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. The single sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc. The follow-up single, “Mama”, peaked at number 22. In the same year, Thomas released a solo album of the same title on the Scepter Records label.
In 1975, Thomas released the album Reunion on ABC Records, which had absorbed the Paramount label; it contained “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” (the longest-titled No. 1 hit ever on the Hot 100). It was Thomas’ first big hit since 1972 and secured him his fourth gold record.
In 1976, Thomas released Home Where I Belong, produced by Chris Christian on Myrrh Records, the first of several gospel albums. It was the first Christian album to go platinum, and Thomas became the biggest contemporary Christian musical artist of the period.
On MCA Records, Thomas and Chris Christian recorded what would be his last Top 40 hit single, “Don’t Worry Baby”, on his last pop album, which also included the Adult Contemporary hit “Still the Lovin’ Is Fun”.
During the 1980s, Thomas’ success on the pop charts began to wane, but many of his singles reached the upper regions on the country singles chart, including two 1983 chart-toppers, “Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Love” and “New Looks from an Old Lover” (see 1984 in music), as well as “Two Car Garage”, which reached number three on the country charts. In 1981, on his 39th birthday, Thomas became the 60th member of the Grand Ole Opry. (Thomas’ Opry membership later lapsed, with the Opry having classified him as a non-regular “guest artist.”)
Thomas scored another hit, recording “As Long as We Got Each Other”, the theme to the television series Growing Pains. The first-season theme was a solo for Thomas, but was re-recorded as a duet with Jennifer Warnes for the second and third seasons. For the show’s fourth season, it was re-recorded again with British singer Dusty Springfield, but the Thomas/Warnes version was reinstated for season five and some of season seven. Thomas first released this track on his 1985 album Throwing Rocks at the Moon (Columbia Records).
Thomas also wrote two books, including the autobiography Home Where I Belong, and starred in the movies Jory and Jake’s Corner. Several commercial jingles, including ones for Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Bell Telephone, have featured his singing voice and music. On December 31, 2011, Thomas was the featured halftime performer at the 2011 Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
Written By ~ George Bernard
From B. J.’s WB Records album “Precious Memories”.
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