Sunday, May 19, 2024

RIP BJ Thomas, 70s Hitmaker with “Raindrops,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” Gospel Records Like “Mighty Clouds of Joy”


BJ Thomas, dead at age 78. His rich, textured voice was a little different than the usual country singer. It was very expressive, and lent itself to pop hits. Hal David and Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” was basically the biggest single of 1970, bigger even than “Let it Be” or “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which seemed impossible. It was number one for four weeks in January 1970 and went to the Oscars with “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

“Hooked on a Feeling” had preceded it to the top of the charts in 1968. A few years later when the “ooga Chocka” was added to it by Swedish one off group Blue Swede it was funny and insulting. BJ’s version was the real thing. The second one was like a drunk parody.

I always loved BJ Thomas’s “Mighty Clouds of Joy.” He had other pop hits like “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.” But the rest of his career was in gospel, and “Mighty Clouds of Joy” was among the best.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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