B.J. Thomas will join Billy Joe Royal for a concert for the Chattanooga Firefighters Association at Memorial Auditorium Sunday.Contributed Photo from Jennifer Carey Photos
B.J. Thomas says for a time while he and his wife were raising their three daughters he wasn’t “really chasing the prize.”
Positive reaction to an interview with an online disc jockey several years ago changed all that, though, and the rock, gospel and country singer is back on the road and in the studio.
Thomas and Billy Joe Royal will be in Chattanooga on Sunday for a concert at Memorial Auditorium to benefit the Chattanooga Firefighters Association and its outreach to nonprofit organizations in Hamilton County and North Georgia.
“Billy and I have done quite a few of these shows [for similar organizations],” he said. “We’re always glad to do it. I feel good about that.”
Thomas said his portion of the concert will stick close to his string of hit songs from the late 1960s and 1970s “with other stuff here and there.”
Among his hits are the Academy Award-winning “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing” (later covered by Elvis Presley), “Rock and Roll Lullaby,” “Mighty Clouds of Joy” and “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.”
Younger fans might remember the theme to the 1985-1992 television show “Growing Pains,” “As Long as We Got Each Other,” which he sang with Jennifer Warnes.
Thomas said he didn’t expect much from the online interview, but the disc jockey packaged some of his music with the interview, and the one-hour spot received 3.5 million hits. After that success, he said, one of his daughters suggested he needed to make a new recording.
“It was a good motivating point,” he said. “It’s taken a while to get the record done, [but] I think it’s some pretty good stuff.”
Thomas, 68, said he’ll be doing 70 to 80 shows in 2011. He said he’s already been to Australia for a month, and the year will wind up his busiest in the last four or five years.
His upcoming release was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Ala., he said, and has “more of a country tinge” than many of his albums but will have some pop-influenced songs too. He said it was recorded with the help of Mike McGuire, an original member of the country band Shenandoah, and country music producer/songwriter Larry Butler.
Thomas said he grew up with Top 40 radio, so his music influences have been varied.
“I have respect for all the good things that have happened,” he said. “I’m used to different genres.”
Thomas said he is grateful to have had a career resurgence but wouldn’t trade the years he wasn’t pushing as hard.
“Music used to be my whole world,” he said. “I’ve come to realize, with Gloria [his wife, who runs his management company] and I married so long, that it’s an important part of our lives, but the real success is our family.”
Contact Clint Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6497.
IF YOU GO
-- What: B.J. Thomas with Billy Joe Royal in concert.
-- When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
-- Where: Memorial Auditorium, 399 McCallie Ave.
-- Admission: $26 (buy one, get one with three or more).
-- Phone: 899-4990.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...