Last night, Grammy-winning singer B.J. Thomas—best known for performing “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and the original version of “Hooked On A Feeling”—died from complications related to lung cancer. Thomas was 78. This news comes from Variety, which shared this statement that Thomas made when his cancer diagnosis was first announced back 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.”
Thomas was born in Oklahoma in 1942 but grew up in Texas, singing in the church choir and joining a country group called The Triumphs that later released a cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” that sold over a million copies in the ‘60s. He also embarked on a solo career, releasing a version of “Hooked On A Feeling” in 1968 that is a bit more straightforward than the more famous Blue Suede version from the ‘70s (re-popularized by Guardians Of The Galaxy decades later), which added in the “ooga chaka” bits from a cover by by British singer Jonathan King.
A year after Thomas released his “Hooked On A Feeling,” he was tapped by Burt Bacharach and Hal David to perform the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” for the movie Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. The song was a huge hit, winning an Oscar and getting Thomas his third million-selling single.
In the late-’70s, after years of substance abuse, Thomas dedicated himself to religion and his family, becoming a gospel singer and finding new success in a different genre. He won multiple Grammy awards in the ‘70s for gospel and inspirational songs, and in 2014 he was inducted into the Grammys Hall Of Fame for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.” Thomas is survived by his wife, three daughters, and four grandchildren.