B.J. Thomas

Born: Aug. 7, 1942 in Hugo, Okla.

Since the mid-1960s, B.J. Thomas has impacted many areas of popular music with 15 Top 40 pop hits, 10 Top 40 country hits, 5 Grammys, and 15 Gold and Platinum Records.

 

Billy Joe Thomas moved with his family to Rosenberg, Texas at age 15 where he sang in his high school and church choirs. As a teenager, he joined a local Houston rock band, the Triumphs. During his senior year he made friends with Roy Head of Roy Head and The Traits. The Traits and the Triumphs held several Battle of the Bands events in the early 1960s. The Triumphs became one of the biggest acts in Texas, opening at the Houston Coliseum for Roy Orbison, the Dave Clark Five, and the Four Tops.

 

In 1965, they set out to record an album of vintage rock and roll. Needing one song to finish the project, B.J. recalled his father saying, "Don't come back unless you record something country."  B.J. recorded Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."  The cover became B.J.’s first hit, and the album sold more than a million copies.

 

By 1968, B.J. had recorded four gold records: "The Eyes of a New York Woman," "Hooked on a Feeling," "It's Only Love" and "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” for the motion picture Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid which won an Academy Award for Song of the Year. "I Just Can't Help Believing" covered by Elvis Pressley reached No. 9 in 1970.

 

In 1976, B.J. released the first of several gospel albums, including Home Where I Belong which went platinum. It was the first Christian album to go platinum, and Thomas became the biggest contemporary Christian artist of the period.  "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” was awarded the Country Music Association, Single of the Year in 1975. His country success led him to become the 60th member of the Grand Ole Opry. In 1989 B.J. recorded "As Long as We Got Each Other," the theme song for the sitcom Growing Pains.  He has since written commercial jingles and produced acoustic versions of many well-known hits.

B.J. Thomas and Kenny Rogers duet "I Just Can't Help Believin'."
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Museum Address: 700 Procter, Port Arthur, TX 77640

The Museum of the Gulf Coast is administered by the Port Arthur Historical Society in partnership with the City of Port Arthur.  

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