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B.J. Thomas, Grammy-winning singer of ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,’ dies at 78

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LOS ANGELES — B.J. Thomas, the Grammy Hall of Fame inductee and award-winning country singer behind hits like “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head” and “Hooked on a Feeling,” has died. He was 78.

Representatives confirmed that Thomas died today at his home in Arlington, Texas on May 29 due to complications from stage four lung cancer. He first announced the diagnosis in March.

“I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to record and perform beautiful songs in pop, country, and gospel music, and to share those wonderful songs and memories around the world with millions of you,” he said in a statement at the time.

Born in Hugo, Okla., Thomas grew up in Houston, Texas where he absorbed a wide range of influences, from Hank Williams’ traditional country to the soul of Jackie Wilson and Little Richard. From humble origins of singing in church, Thomas first found success with a cover of William’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” in 1966, which became his first million-selling single.

Over his career, Thomas won five Grammys, sold 70 million albums worldwide and has eight No. 1 hits and 26 Top 10 singles. Among his hits were “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” and “Hooked on a Feeling.”

Thomas’ hit single “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, won the best original song award at the Academy Awards as part of the classic Paul Newman and Robert Redford film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Sales soared to over 2 million copies and has continued to find its place in beloved movies, such as “Forrest Gump” and “Spider-Man 2.”

Not much later, Thomas fell into substance abuse. He cited meeting his wife, Gloria, as a turning point, at which point he became a born-again Christian, quit drugs and turned to gospel music as a way of expressing his faith. His 1976 album, “Home Where I Belong,” earned a Grammy and a Dove Award.

Beyond his beloved hits, Thomas also sang the theme song for the sitcom “Growing Pains,” “As Long As We’ve Got Each Other,” and voiced several commercials for companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. He also appeared in the film “Jory and Jake’s Corner,” and penned his autobiography, also titled “Home Where I Belong.”

Thomas is survived by Gloria, who he was married to for 53 years; their three daughters, Paige Thomas, Nora Cloud and Erin Moore and four grandchildren, Nadia Cloud, Keira Cloud, Ruby Moore and Billy Joe Moore. Funeral plans are still in the process, but will remain private. In-memoriam donations can be made to Mission Arlington, Tarrant Area Food Bank and the SPCA of Texas.

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What Dr. Oz and Donald Trump have in common

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Karnataka: Make Covid-19 vax compulsory to get electricity and rations, says panel | Bengaluru News

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BENGALURU: The Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has suggested that the state make full vaccination mandatory for people to avail various benefits, including rations, water and electricity, from the government. This follows concerns over the possible spread of Omicron, the new SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern, and experts pushing to ensure all eligible people above the age of 18 years are completely vaccinated to prevent the pandemic situation from spiralling out of control.
TAC members met health minister K Sudhakar on Tuesday and submitted a slew of new recommendations, based on discussions at its 136th meeting on Monday (November 29).
The report recommends that to draw government benefits like rations from the public distribution system, electricity, domestic LPG, salaries, pensions, awarding of contracts and even petrol and diesel at bunks, one must be fully vaccinated. Incidentally, the Centre has insisted that the vaccine is not mandatory, although it has urged people to take the shot.
Karnataka has so far covered 91.5% of the total eligible population with the first dose, while second-dose coverage crossed 60% on Tuesday.
As reported by TOI earlier, the TAC had also recommended that the government refuse free treatment in private hospitals for people who contract the disease and are not vaccinated. They can only be treated in government hospitals. The TAC has also suggested that the government conduct special vaccination drives in shopping malls, bus stands, railways stations, hotels and lodges, and at exhibitions.
While the state has mandated that only fully vaccinated people can enter film theatres, implementation has been lax with theatre personnel not asking cinemagoers for vaccination certificates.
Yet to decide
After his meeting with the TAC on Tuesday, Sudhakar said that there have been suggestions that those who do not receive the second dose should not have access to malls, theatres and the government should take a decision on non-payment of treatment in a private hospital. “We are yet to take any decision on these recommendations,” he told reporters.
Most of the recommendations are already in force in states like Maharashtra. From Sunday (November 28), the Maharashtra government mandated that full vaccination certificate is needed to use public transport such as buses, autos, taxis and trains. People must also furnish a vaccination certificate to enter malls, theatres, shops or any establishment where the public have a right to service.
In Madhya Pradesh, double vaccination was made mandatory to purchase liquor from November 19 onwards.
When contacted a top bureaucrat said that TAC’s suggestion on cutting water and power supply cannot be implemented. “Experts have suggested what they have discussed,” the official said. “We cannot force anyone to take the vaccine. Instead, we must educate people on the benefits of vaccination and explain to them that the vaccine has effectively prevented Covid deaths across the country.” The official said efforts are being made to get people who are hesitant to take the vaccine.

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‘West Side Story’ cast on Stephen Sondheim’s film ‘blessing’

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Stephen Sondheim’s immense impact on the world of musical theater was felt at the New York premiere of Steven Spielberg’s version of the composer’s “West Side Story” on Monday night.

The movie’s cast and crew shared their memories of the Broadway luminary, who died last Friday at 91 — and who spent his final days watching his magnum opus once again come to life on the silver screen.

“[In] one of the last messages I received from him, he just gushed over the film,” Justin Peck, the New York City Ballet’s resident choreographer, told Page Six.

“Stephen said to me, ‘On behalf of the original authors, we’re so proud of what this film is, and I’m so happy that it’s been made.’ That was all the feedback I ever needed … I know that he was happy with the film.”

Stephen Sondheim attends the 2019 American Songbook Gala
Sondheim, who was considered one of the most important figures of musical theater, died at his Roxbury, Connecticut, home.
Getty Images

Rita Moreno, who appeared in the original 1961 film as Anita, said she felt “privileged” to have been “in the same generation as him.”

“I’m just so glad he was able to attend our recording sessions,” the actress, who appears in a new role in Spielberg’s adaptation, told Page Six.

Justin Peck and Patricia Delgado on the red carpet.
Choreographer Justin Peck and his wife, associate choreographer Patricia Delgado, reflected on their time working with Sondheim.
Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock

Associate choreographer Patricia Delgado said the famed composer and lyricist’s “powerful” presence could be felt as the cast and crew gathered at the premiere.

“He was really the only one alive [from the original film] to give us his blessing,” she said. “He’s contributed so much to all of us already that he lives in us.”

Rachel Zegler on the red carpet.
Zegler stunned on the red carpet at the New York premiere, revealing Sondheim was the “reason” she pursued a career in musical theater.
Getty Images for 20th Century St

The film’s breakout star, 20-year-old Rachel Zegler, who is taking on the role of Maria, also cited Sondheim as the “reason [she] got into musical theater.”

“Getting to share a room with him, getting to talk to him and tell him how much he’s meant to me throughout my entire life is something they can never take away from me,” she said.

Rita Moreno on the red carpet.
EGOT winner Rita Moreno will appear in a new role in the film, 60 years after her star-making turn as Anita.
Getty Images

Zegler stars opposite Ansel Elgort’s Tony in the film, which arrives in theaters Dec. 10. Their characters’ ill-fated love story, based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” ignites the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, rival street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

While the 1961 movie featured white actors like Natalie Wood in roles such as Maria, who is Puerto Rican, Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner cast Hispanic actors in all Latino roles.

A still from "West Side Story."
The film will be released in cinemas nationwide on December 10, just weeks after Sondheim’s death.
RAMONA ROSALES

“Both Tony and Steven made an absolute point that Latino [actors] were going to play Latinos,” Moreno said, noting how “grateful” she was that Kushner created a new role in the film especially for her.

“I’m just thrilled to be a piece of this yet again. I owe it all to Tony Kushner for making a new character for me in an iconic movie … we really have become dear and close friends, he’s a genius.”

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