B.J. Thomas, who passed away on May 29 at the age of 78, had 27 pop Top 100 songs in the 1960s through the 1980s. His biggest pop hits were his three gold singles. First there was the original version of “Hooked on a Feeling” charting in late 1968 through early 1969, with Reggie Young on electric sitar. Next there was the Academy Award winning Hal David and Burt Bacharach composition “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” from the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This song stayed in the Top 40 for 22 weeks and was No. 1 for most of January 1970. Thomas’ third gold record not only was No. 1 on the pop chart, but also on the adult contemporary and country charts in 1975, “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.”
From the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, Thomas was highly successful in the contemporary Christian market, winning Dove and Grammy awards.
In 1983, Thomas longed for traditional values, as he had done with 1971’s “No Love at All,” with the Lewis Anderson composition “Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love,” his first single on Steve Popovich’s Cleveland International label. Thomas recalled “the kind of love my mama and daddy knew,” and was dismayed that “the tenderness has been replaced by something less.” While the song only spent two weeks near the bottom of the pop Top 100, it rose all the way to No. 1 on the country chart, for his second time in that country position. The flip side was “I Just Sing,” written by Red Lane and Gloria Thomas, who had also written “New Looks from an Old Lover” for him. The verses delivered were similar to Kenny Rogers’ gentle approach on “She Believes in Me.” The repeated bridge sections were a lively celebration of the joy of music, similar in theme to Seals & Crofts’ “I’ll Play for You” and Barry Manilow’s “I Write the Songs.” Thomas sang, “I just sing, try to make my fantasies come true” and “I don’t do miracles, I wish I could.” His ending notes on the title lyrics “I just sing” again echoed “I Write the Songs.” While this was Thomas’ final charting single in the pop Top 100, three more Cleveland International singles followed and all made the country Top 20, “Two Car Garage,” “The Whole World’s In Love When You’re Lonely,” and “The Girl Most Likely To.”
Flip side: I Just Sing
A side: Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love
Top 100 debut: May 21, 1983
Peak position: 93
Cleveland International 38-03492
In the mid-1980s, B.J. Thomas reached the No. 1 country position for a final time with “New Looks from an Old Lover.” In that era, he also recorded “As Long as We Got Each Other,” the theme song for the television show Growing Pains.