By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA (ANS) -- B.J. (Billy Joe) Thomas has been a fixture on the American Christian and secular music scene for decades and he got worldwide recognition when the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, featured Thomas performing the (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) song "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head", which became the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1970. The song was also released on an album of the same name.
B.J. Thomas performing
I caught up with Thomas at the recent Feed The Children 2008 Hero Awards at the Universal Hilton, Universal City, California, where he was to perform some of his hit records such as Raindrops, Hooked On A Feelin' and Just Can't Help Believin'.
In an interview I conducted with him for ANS and Safe Worlds IPTV, Thomas said, "I've got a song that I am going to sing tonight that really ties in with the Hero Awards; I did it on the soundtrack of the movie Jake's Corner called When The Hero Dies. So it kind of ties in beautifully and I'm looking forward to doing that."
When asked how long he has been in show business, Thomas replied, "I got in a band when I was fifteen years old, back in nineteen-fifty-seven, so I've been in the business a long time."
I then asked him if he knew Buddy Holly.
"No, as I was about twelve years old when Buddy was killed in the plane crash," said Thomas. "So he was just right ahead of me, but you know, of course, I used a Buddy Holly lick on the end of Raindrops and he's always been an inspiration for me along with Elvis and a lot of those guys.
"And that will kind of be the theme of my music tonight; the fact that these guys are not alive anymore but they set the example for us to keep the dream alive."
B.J. Thomas is a committed Christian and I then mentioned that many Christian musicians appear to go through a spiritual crisis in their lives and I wondered if that had been the same for him.
"I did have some alcohol and drug problems which I believe would have come along whether I'd been in the music business or not," he said. "It was just a part of my youth and the way I grew up.
"My dad had some alcohol problems and he probably is my biggest hero of all time. Still he kind of passed them along to me and that was just something I had to deal with.
"I didn't really get past it until I had a spiritual awakening back in nineteen-seventy-six, so I thank God for that and it wasn't until that happened to me that I really got past it. But I am so glad to still be standing here today."
What had been the highlight of his life?
"Oh gosh, I guess my marriage to my lovely wife Gloria," he said as huge smiled enveloped his face. "I've had a forty year marriage. I've got three grown children and three grandchildren. So even if I never had had any hit records or any success in music, I still would have had a beautiful life just because of the family I've had. So that's my biggest thrill in life."
Standing next to B.J. Thomas on the red carpet was Bo Rice, the American Idol fourth-season runner-up, so I asked him what he thought about the "Idol" show.
"It is just a part of what's going on in our society right now," he said. "I learned my craft after I had my first hit record while I was out with Dick Clark. I learned how to be an entertainer while I was doing my job. Now days, because of American Idol, it kind of exemplifies that you've got to be way past learning before you step on the stage anywhere. So that's just the way it is. Everything is getting better and everybody's getting younger."
I then asked him if he was amazed that he was still alive.
"Oh absolutely," he said. "I'm just living on blessed time. You know I've had a lot of my friends and peers who didn't make it through their drug addictions and alcohol problems. For some reason God had a plan for me; at least that's the way I feel about it. He had a plan for them too. He just they got their job done quicker than I have. So yes, I feel very fortunate to and I thank God for it."
Note: I would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this interview.
A few facts and figure on the career of B.J. Thomas
* Sold more than 70 million records
* Earned 2 Platinum records
* Had 11 Gold records
* Won 5 Grammy Awards
* Won 2 Dove Awards for Gospel Recordings which include "Home Where I Belong".
* Had 15 Top 40 Pop/Rock Hits which include "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head", "Eyes Of A New York Woman", "Hooked On A Feeling", "Rock and Roll Lullaby", and "I Just Can't Help Believing"
* Had 10 Top 40 Country Chart Hits which include "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song", "Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love" and "Two Car Garage"
* Become the 60th Member of The Grand Ole Opry in 1981.
* Been the only artist ever to have the "Song Of The Year" on the Pop, Country and Gospel charts
|Dan Wooding, 67, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma of 44 years. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. Wooding is the author of some 42 books, the latest of which is his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, go to www.fromtabloidtotruth.com. firstname.lastname@example.org.|
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