B.J. Thomas has Stage 4 lung cancer, the Grammy-winning singer said today through his reps. The man who topped the Hot 100 with “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and had four other top 10 singles is receiving treatment in a Texas health care facility and is hopeful for a complete recovery.
Saying he plans to continue to interact with industry colleagues and fans and remains optimistic about his availability to make public appearances, Thomas released this statement via his publicists at 2911 Media:
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“I just wanted to take this unique opportunity to share my gratitude to Gloria, my wonderful wife and my rock for over 53 years, my family, friends, and fans. 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. I ask all of you for your prayers during this time and that my music can live on with you.”
The Oklahoma native who was raised in Texas broke through in 1966 with his version of Hank Williams 1949 song “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” which peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. He scored a second national hit with “Hooked on a Feeling” in late 1968 — a song that went on to reach No. 1 in its “Ooga-Chucka” version by Blue Swede six years later.
The following year, Thomas recorded “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” which Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote for 20th Century Fox’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The film went on to be the top grossing-movie of 1969 and win the Oscar for Best Song, while the single became Thomas’ first No. 1, spending four weeks on top at the beginning of 1970.
The song also earned Thomas his first Grammy nomination; was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014; and is heard in subsequent films and TV shows ranging from Forrest Gump and Spider-Man 2 to Clerks II, Family Guy and last year’s “Mrs. America.”
Listening to the classic song, it’s easy to notice what appear to be some struggles by the singer. Thomas actually was recovering from laryngitis when he recorded it, which gave “Raindrops” its singular vocal sound.
Thomas returned to the top 10 that year with “I Just Can’t Help Believing” before a run of nearly five years when only two of his singles — “No Love at All” and “Rock and Roll Lullaby,” with Duane Eddy on guitar — reached the national top 20.
He roared back to the pop spotlight in 1975 with “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” which became his second pop No. 1 and won the Best Country Song Grammy for its writers Chips Moman & Larry Butler. It also is the song with the longest title to top the Hot 100.
Thomas has had a spotty pop career since then but has continued to record gospel and inspirational music. He won Grammy Awards every year from 1976-81 for his recordings of such tracks as “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Amazing Grace” and the 1976 LP Home Where I Belong.
He has continued to record and perform.
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