Billy Joe Thomas was born August 7, 1942 in Hugo, Oklahoma. He grew up in and around Houston, Texas and joined the band “The Triumphs” while in High School. He also was friends in school with Roy Head (Rockabilly singer).
In 1966, Thomas and the Triumphs released the album I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Pacemaker Records) which included the cover of the great Hank Williams song. This single earned Thomas his first gold record. “Mama”, the follow-up single peaked at number 22 on the Billboard charts.
In 1968 he released the “Hooked on a Feeling” 45 on Scepter Records. It features Reggie Young on electric sitar and was released as part of the album On My Way. This became his second gold record peaking at number 5. His first number 1 would come the next year, 1969, as part of the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Katherine Ross.
Raindrops won the Academy award for best original song of the year. He released it on the album of the same name, which reached number 12 on the album chart. His fourth gold record would come in 1975 from his ABC album Reunion, “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song”. This was the longest title to ever be number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
You can check out his discography here. If you watched he sitcom Growing Pains (1985-1992) you heard Thomas’ “As Long as We Got Each Other”, the theme song, with Dusty Springfield.
He struggled with drug and alcohol addiction until about 1976. He died of lung cancer on May 29, 2021 in Arlington, Texas, at his home, he was 78 years old.