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Published: Friday, 12/10/2004

B.J. Thomas: Versatility yields longevity

B.J. Thomas is the consummate professional, a pop artist who survived the dramatic shifts in musical tastes over the decades since the '60s through versatility and perseverance.

Thomas, who has sold 70 million records, received wide radio play several decades ago thanks to a succession of soft-rock hits well suited for pop radio. He'll be featuring those songs and some holiday-themed tunes in a show tomorrow night in the Ritz Theatre in Tiffin.

His hits 35 years ago are standards of a sort because they were so catchy. Anyone who listened to music of that era on the radio can automatically hum the melodies to "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" or "Hooked on A Feeling."

Thomas, 62, first hit the charts in 1966 with his cover of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," which hit No. 8 on the pop charts. "Hooked on a Feeling" rose to No. 5 two years later, followed by "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" in 1969.

A native of Houston, he bounced around a few labels as the hits dried up, before landing at the top of the country charts with "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song." In 1983 and 1984, he was all over the country charts with a string of No. 1 hits that included "Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love" and "New Looks From an Old Lover."

Ever evolving, when the country gig stopped being successful, Thomas moved to gospel, recording a number of gospel hits on the Myrrh label. He's even cut a holiday album, "Christmas is Coming Home," that included originals and standards.

B.J. Thomas performs at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the Ritz Theatre, 30 South Washington St., Tiffin. Tickets, $12 to $37, are available from the box office. Information: 419-448-8544.

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