Christian fame didn’t go well with BJ Thomas. The famous singer of “Raindrops Keep Fallin ‘on My Head” and “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song”, personally loved Jesus. It was the followers of Christ who were the problem.
Thomas, who deceased On May 29, at age 78, had a spiritual awakening in 1976. After his born again experience, the pop and country singer with 15 singles in the Top 40 of the charts quit drugs and reunited with his wife, Gloria . He released a very successful Christian music album. And was confronted with an evangelical culture hungry for stars but also instantly, with anger against them.
Thomas was hailed as a new evangelical icon, then heckled, booed and berated by born-again fans who didn’t think he was fulfilling his Christianity properly. Other celebrities who wanted to express their faith in pop music, but struggled with the demands of believing fans – including Bob Dylan, Amy Grant, and Justin Bieber – would have similar experiences over the following decades.
âI think that’s a really sad comment when people who want to call themselves a quote-Christians-without a quote would want to come out and hear someone just to boo them,â Thomas mentionned in an interview in 2019. “It has always been difficult for me to deal with, and I just stopped making 100% gospel records.”
Thomas’ most public shock came in 1982, having won her fifth gospel Grammy. He sang a series of his secular hits to an Oklahoma audience of over 1,800 people, and a woman started yelling at him about Jesus. He told her that he wanted Jesus to shut her up, then he said, “I’m not going to put up with this” and he walked off the stage. Someone shouted, âYou’re losing your witness, BJ,â and there were scattered boos.
The singer returned to the stage and continued the show, but not before criticizing the fans.
âYou like to get together with your gospel singers and talk about how you lead all pop singers to the Lord,â he said. “But when you put them in front of you, you can’t love them, can you?” I have Jesus, but you cannot love me.
In CCMThomas complained that Christians “can’t seem to hear someone singing.” It always has to be some kind of Christian clichÃ© or Bible song, or they feel it is their right before God to reject, judge and mock.
Thomas continued to produce Christian-themed gospel records and music for the rest of his career, but he also recorded country and pop hits including “Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love,” “New Looks from an Old Lover “,” Two Car Garage “. , âAndâ As long as we got along, âthe sitcom’s theme song Growing pains. His shows were mostly secular, with a few religious songs mixed in.
He nevertheless had many committed Christian fans who mourned his passing on Memorial Day weekend.
Thomas was born August 7, 1942 in Hugo, Oklahoma. His parents, Vernon and Geneva Thomas, named him Billy Joe. He grew up in Houston, where his childhood was dominated by his father’s baseball, music, and alcoholism.
Thomas became the singer for a local band called The Triumphs at age 15 and started drinking and using drugs at the same time. The Triumphs were successful in 1966 with Thomas ‘cover of Hank Williams’ song, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
As a solo artist, Thomas broke the top 10 of the charts with a love song in 1968, another love song in 1970 and the surprise hit “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, which appeared during the show. ” a musical interlude by bike in the genre – defying the West Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The song won an Oscar for Thomas and spent four weeks in 1970 as America’s No. 1 song.
He had another No. 1 hit in 1975, with the self-aware, self-commenting heartbroken country song, “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.”
Success did not make him happy. In fact, it almost killed him.
As he later recounted in his memory, co-authored with evangelical author Jerry B. Jenkins, he began to use more and more drugs until he spent thousands of dollars every day on cocaine, which he supplemented with amphetamines and attempted to balance with Valium and marijuana. His personal relations have become difficult and his public performances irregular. More and more, he couldn’t even make it to concerts.
He overdosed in 1975, taking 80 pills at a time. He was surprised when he woke up.
“I remember asking the nurse why I was still alive”, Thomas mentionned. “She replied, ‘God must want you to accomplish more here in this world.’
When he returned home on January 27, 1976, his wife, Gloria, told him that she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior and introduced him to an evangelical rodeo who explained to Thomas how he too could be. Safe. The man invited Thomas to pray with him, and Thomas poured out his heart to God.
âI started a 20 minute prayer which was the most sincere thing I have ever done in my life,â he later wrote. âI was right with the Lord in everything I could think of, and the bridge between 10 years of hell and a good relationship with God was only 20 minutes.
According to historian David W. Stowe, the conversion of Thomas inaugurated the âYear of the Evangelicalâ and launches the âJesus Rockâ phenomenon with his 1976 album My house where I belong, published by Myrrh. It was a # 1 gospel album, won a Dove Award, won a Grammy, and earned Thomas a million dollar contract with MCA Records.
In the early 1980s, the Christian music circuit could boast a solid roster of pop celebrities who confessed to Christ, including Dylan, Donna Summer, Little Richard, Al Green, Arlo Guthrie, Noel Paul Stookey, Maria Muldaur and Bonnie Bramlett. But if Thomas was the first on the scene, he was also the first to become unhappy with the demands of the Christian public.
âI am not a Christian artist. I’m an artist who’s a Christian, âhe told a Wisconsin reporter in 1982.â There is a great deal of people who think a Christian singer should sing Christian songs all the time. â¦ This fall, I’m working to get my pop audience back. “
He later continued to include religious music in his performances, but he didn’t talk as much about Jesus.
“I could have been presented as a very religious entity at that time,” he said. Told an interviewer, âbut I’m not a religious person as we speak. And I’m not sure that a religion can serve all of humanity. “
Thomas is survived by his wife, Gloria, and their three daughters, Paige Thomas, Nora Cloud and Erin Moore.