B. J. THOMAS
BJ Thomas owns one of the most distinctive voices in American pop music; with over 70 million records sold, his vocal versatility is as apparent today on his latest album, Love To Burn, as it was when he recorded his first hit in 1967, “I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry”. Nothing about the identifiable sound of B.J. THOMAS' voice has changed. Recognizing the continued loyalty of his fans, B.J. has established his own label, B.J. Thomas Music (www. Bjthomasmusic.com), which debuts with the release of LOVE TO BURN.
Since the mid-1960s, BJ Thomas has become one of the most recognized and respected voices of the American musical landscape. He impacts many areas of popular music and received 15 Top 40 pop hits, 10 Top 40 country hits, 5 Grammys, 2 Dove awards and 15 Gold and Platinum Records. “As a singer,” he says, “I have the chance to lift the spirits of the audience and make them feel good, at least for the evening.” It’s an attitude people notice.
Fans frequently approach BJ to thank him for the positive impact of his songs on their lives ranging from the mega hit “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” to country smashes like “New Looks From An Old Lover.” BJ’s music is testimony to the fact he is a survivor. He has overcome personal adversity and addiction as well as weathered professional storms to emerge musically stronger than ever.
LOVE TO BURN synthesizes the wide-ranging styles that have influenced his career. It includes a barrelhouse version of T-R-O-U-B-L-E, a song originally associated with Elvis Presley, LOVE TO BURN digs into Allen Toussaint's New Orleans-flavored Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues) and features a Dobie Gray-penned ballad, Stranger In The Mirror, that finds B.J. in movingly sensitive form.
Love To Burn contains a masterfully blended mix of 8 ballads and 4 up tempo songs which allow B.J. to demonstrate his marvelous voice and virtuosity which have placed him at the pinnacle of success, with a history of more than 70,000,000 record sales. This album is a must for everyone who enjoys beautiful music, full orchestration, and the voice of B. J. Thomas.
Billy Joe Thomas, nick-named BJ by his baseball coach at age 10, was born in Hugo, Oklahoma, and grew up in Houston, Texas. He moved with his family to Rosenberg, Texas at age 15 and was a “charming, energetic cut-up”, according to his friends. BJ was a member of his high school and church choirs. As a teenager, he developed a passion for R&B. As his passion grew, he began sneaking into nightclubs to hear blues legend Bobby “Blue” Bland. At the age of 15, BJ joined a local Houston rock band, the Triumphs. Early influences range from Ernest Tubb to Jackie Wilson and Little Richard. BJ made his biggest local splash as lead singer for the Triumphs, a six-piece rock and roll band that started out playing at dances and a Saturday morning radio show. The Triumphs became one of the biggest acts in Texas, opening at the Houston Coliseum for headliners like Roy Orbison, the Dave Clark Five and the Four Tops. The Triumphs’ first album was recorded in Beaumont. They released several well-received local singles. In 1965 the band went into the studio to record an album of vintage rock and roll. They needed one song to finish the project. BJ recalled his father had told him, “Don’t come back unless you record something country”. With that in mind, BJ suggested Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. It was recorded at 5 a.m. after an all night session.
Reflecting on his childhood, BJ recalls a major turning point in his life. “I remember seeing Hank Williams with my father,” he says. “He was unbelievable that night. He came out on stage and he was feeling good. I remember him getting on his knees and playing the guitar. I’ll never forget the look on my daddy’s face at that show. I guess that’s the night I decided I was going to communicate with my daddy through the music he loved. It was the only way I could communicate with him.”
The Triumphs took the new album to Houston DJs who picked up on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and made it a regional hit. The record’s producer leased the master tape of the single to New York’s Scepter Records, who had access to such acts as the Shirelles and the Isley Brothers. The album went to number four on the national pop charts and sold more than a million copies - several other bands had already attempted to cover the song, but were unsuccessful. By 1968, he had recorded four gold records. The first three hits were “The Eyes Of a New York Woman,” “Hooked on a Feeling” and “It’s Only Love”. Followed by “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”. Labelmate Dionne Warwick, who’d been working with the Burt Bacharach/Hal David songwriting team, recommended BJ 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,” BJ says, “and I probably got their best song ever.” “Raindrops” was Bacharach/David’s first million-selling song. The same year BJ sang the song on the Academy Awards telecast, “Raindrops” was named Song of the Year. 1999 marked the 30-year anniversary of “Raindrops”.
In 1976, he released the first of several gospel albums, “Home Where I Belong,” which went platinum, making him the biggest contemporary Christian artist of the period. Over the next several years, he received two Dove awards. However, gospel fans reacted negatively when BJ sang his older pop hits at Christian-focused concerts.
Moving back country music, BJ hit the Top 40 ten times with hits like “What Ever Happened To Old Fashioned Love,” “New Looks From an Old Lover” (which wife Gloria wrote with Red Lane), and “The Whole World’s in Love When You’re Lonely.” His country success led him to become the 60th member of the Grand Ole Opry on his 30th birthday.
Throughout his career, BJ has actively worked for various causes. In particular, his song, “Broken Toys,” written by Gloria and Nashville writers J.D. Martin and Gary Harrison, has been adopted by child abuse agencies throughout the country. In 1989 BJ recorded “As Long As We Got Each Other,” the theme song for the ABC sitcom Growing Pains. As the tours and records keep coming, BJ Thomas maintains his reputation as a singer. “BJ is one of the greatest all-time singers of today,” according to Nashville songwriter Mark James, who wrote “Hooked On a Feeling” and Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds”. While BJ and Gloria have written several of his hit songs, he continues to credit the many talented songwriters with whom he has worked. “Their songs still stand up,” he says. “That’s a sign of a great writer. I’m like the mailman. I deliver what the guys write and hope it has a lasting effect when I get it there.”
As a man who has seen both the good and the bad life and career have to offer, BJ places more importance than ever on his marriage of over 30 years and his family life. “The real answer for me,” he says, “lies in trying to be a good husband to my wife and a good father to my kids (he has three daughters - Paige, Nora and Erin) and live up to my responsibilities. That’s the bottom line right there. I really believe that just being a regular guy and trying to do the best you can is the essence of having peace of mind in this life.” This attitude helps him keep his extraordinary career in perspective.
BJ’s 1997 release of “Christmas Is Coming Home,” on the Warner Resound label, has been hailed as one of the strongest collections of nontraditional Christmas music. “I’ll be honest with you,” he adds conspiratorially, “when I do music, I do so with everything I can give it. And I’m sure I always will.” 1965 or 2007, BJ’s dynamic voice remains uncompromised. The new album, Love To Burn, showcases the wonderfully unique vocal style of BJ Thomas.