B.J. Thomas

I was a huge Hank Williams fan as a child, so much so that my parents swear my first words were "round and round" as I pointed to the phonograph while "Your Cheatin' Heart" poured out of it. So as a teenager, I flipped the first time I heard B.J. Thomas's cover of Hank's "So Lonesome I Could Cry" coming out of my car radio. B.J. Thomas and the Triumphs were popular around Houston at the time (1966), but "Lonesome" rocketed the Rosenberg teen and Lamar Consolidated graduate straight to the big time. The album, originally released on Pasadena's tiny Pacemaker label, was picked up by New York's Scepter Records; the single eventually reached No. 8 on the Billboard chart, making Thomas an extremely hot property. By 1969, labelmate Dionne Warwick had introduced Burt Bacharach to Thomas, and they collaborated for the megahit "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" for the Paul Newman/Robert Redford film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. "Raindrops" was Thomas's first No. 1, but a rapid string of hits followed — most notably "Just Can't Help Believing," later covered by Elvis Presley. Leaving Scepter for ABC Records, Thomas scored a huge crossover hit in 1975 with "(Hey, Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song"; he was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry when he was only 30 years old. Living in Dallas these days, the five-time Grammy winner remains active, releasing Love to Burn in late 2007 and carving out a niche in the world of Christian music. He'll have his full band in tow for this one.

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William Michael Smith