Grammy-winning singer B.J. Thomas dies

Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head singer B.J. Thomas has died of lung cancer at 78.
Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head singer B.J. Thomas has died of lung cancer at 78.

B.J. Thomas, the Grammy-winning singer who enjoyed success on the pop, country and gospel charts with such hits as I Just Can't Help Believing, Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head and Hooked On A Feeling, has died.

He was 78.

Thomas, who announced in March that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, died from complications of the disease on Saturday at his home in Arlington, Texas, a statement released by his representatives said.

A Hugo, Oklahoma-native who grew up in Houston, Billy Joe Thomas broke through in 1966 with a gospel-styled cover of Hank Williams' I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry and went on to sell millions of records and have dozens of hits across genres.

He reached No. 1 with pop, adult contemporary and country listeners in 1976 with (Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.

The same year, his Home Where I Belong became one of the first gospel albums to be certified platinum for selling more than one million copies.

His signature recording was Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head, a No. 1 pop hit and an Oscar winner for best original song as part of the soundtrack to one of the biggest movies of 1969, the irreverent Western Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid.

Thomas had few pop hits after the mid-1970s, but he continued to score on the country charts with such No. 1 songs as Whatever Happened To Old-Fashioned Love and New Looks From An Old Lover.

In the late 1970s and early '80s, he was also a top gospel and inspirational singer, winning two Dove awards and five Grammys, including a Grammy in 1979 for best gospel performance for The Lord's Prayer.

Thomas is survived by his wife, songwriter Gloria Richardson whom he married in 1968, and three daughters Paige, Nora and Erin.

Australian Associated Press