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BJ Thomas obituary | Pop and rock



In 1969, BJ Thomas, who has died of complications from lung cancer aged 78, spent four weeks at the top of the US chart with Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, from the soundtrack of the popular film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It is the song he will always be synonymous with, but he nearly didn’t get to sing it.

As Thomas recalled, its composer Burt Bacharach originally wanted Bob Dylan to record it, but Dylan could not or would not oblige. Then Ray Stevens was offered it, but he too declined. When Thomas was at last given the job, he was warned not to sing by his doctor because he was suffering from laryngitis. “I had come off a two-week tour and had laryngitis and was barely able to eke out the thing for the soundtrack,” he remembered. Somehow he managed to battle his way through five takes in the studio and produce a result that the exacting Bacharach was happy with for the film. A recovered Thomas recorded a new vocal for the song’s release as a single.

Raindrops won an Oscar for best original song and Thomas performed it at the 1970 Academy Awards ceremony. Although it only got to No 38 in the UK singles chart, its popularity was enduring through regular radio play over the decades. It was his first US No 1 hit, following other chart successes including his Top 10 version of Hank Williams’s I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (1966), The Eyes of a New York Woman (which reached No 28, 1968) and Hooked on a Feeling (No 5, 1968). The last of these earned Thomas a season of performances at the Copacabana nightclub in New York.

Blessed with a voice that brought a hint of soulfulness to its easy-listening smoothness, he would enjoy further pop hits into the 1970s including I Just Can’t Help Believing (later a hit single and in-concert favourite for Elvis Presley) and No Love at All (1970), the exuberant gospel-styled Mighty Clouds of Joy (1971) and Rock and Roll Lullaby (1972), and would top the US pop chart again with (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song (1975).

BJ Thomas performing in 2015. He struggled with drug addiction, reaching rock bottom, but managed to quit in 1976. He also found religion.
BJ Thomas performing in 2015. He struggled with drug addiction, reaching rock bottom, but managed to quit in 1976. He also found religion. Photograph: Mike Windle/Getty Images

The last of these also topped the US country chart, where he would make numerous appearances, including the No 1 hits Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Love and New Looks From An Old Lover (both 1983). In 1981 he was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. In the late 70s and 80s, he scored a string of hits as a gospel and inspirational singer.

Billy Joe Thomas was born in Hugo, Oklahoma, the second of three children of Vernon and Geneva Thomas. He grew up in Houston and then Rosenberg, Texas, graduating from Rosenberg’s Lamar consolidated high school.

He was dubbed “BJ” when he played Little League baseball at school, to distinguish him from several other players called Billy Joe. Thomas described how, later on, “I went through years of intense alcoholism and drug addiction” and it was music that served as his lifeline.

He had sung in church as a child, and later drew inspiration from singers including Williams, Mahalia Jackson and Jackie Wilson. He especially took to heart the uplifting message from Wilson’s song To Be Loved. With his older brother Jerry, he joined a local pop band, the Triumphs, while he was in high school. They recorded I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry for the Pacemaker record label, which became a million-selling hit after it was picked up by New York’s Scepter Records, home to such artists as the Isley Brothers, Dionne Warwick and Tammi Terrell.

Thomas’s success meant that he was in demand internationally and was frequently on tour, but his problems with drugs reached life-threatening proportions in the early 70s. He told the Associated Press: “I had begun to overdose a few times. They had to hook me up to a machine to keep me alive. Once I was pronounced dead. My marriage was a failure. Finally I was totally at the bottom in my life.”

He reconciled with his wife, Gloria Richardson, whom he had married in 1968, and with her help gave up drugs in 1976. He found religion too, and made his first gospel-styled album Home Where I Belong. It won him the first of his five Grammy awards in 1977, and that year he sang at the memorial service for Elvis Presley. Thomas described his personal struggles in his autobiography, Home Where I Belong (1978).

He made a couple of forays into acting. He played the gunslinger Jocko in a western called Jory (1973) and appeared in the comedy-drama Jake’s Corner (2008). A more rewarding screen-related venture was his performance of As Long As We Got Each Other, the theme song to the 80s TV sitcom Growing Pains.

This took on a life of its own, being first recorded by Thomas solo, then in a duet with Jennifer Warnes for the show’s second season, then in an extended version sung by Thomas and Dusty Springfield. This last incarnation appeared on Thomas’s album Midnight Minute (1989) and was a hit on the adult contemporary chart.

He kept touring and recording, and The Living Room Sessions (2013) comprised acoustic versions of a dozen of his hits, with guest appearances by Lyle Lovett, Vince Gill, Richard Marx and others.

Thomas is survived by Gloria and their daughters, Paige, Nora and Erin.

BJ (Billy Joe) Thomas, singer, born 7 August 1942; died 29 May 2021

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Call of Duty Vanguard Season 1 release date, battle pass, latest news



The Call of Duty Vanguard Season 1 release date is nearly here, which means you’ll be seeing plenty of new content in the paid Vanguard game and the freebie that is CoD Warzone.

Indeed, there’s not long to wait before it’s all going to change in Call of Duty, with players about to see Warzone undergo quite the transformation to match up with the recently released Call of Duty: Vanguard.

Among the many changes on the way are a brand new Call of Duty Warzone map, but that will be just the tip of the iceberg of what we can expect when this huge update goes live.

While there will no doubt be many surprises that Activision has up its sleeve when Call of Duty Vanguard season 1 launches, we are getting more and more information as the days go by.

So, for all that we know about Call of Duty Vanguard season 1, including when we get to play it, here is all we know so far.

Call of Duty Vanguard Season 1 release date

The Call of Duty Vanguard Season 1 release date is set for Thursday 9th December 2021, and so we only have a matter of days to go before the update lands and we can explore everything for ourselves.

Call of Duty Vanguard Season 1 launch time

What time will Call of Duty Vanguard Season 1 be released? Good question and we have what looks to be the answer. The new map is said to be available at 5pm GMT on 9th December so it stands to reason that will also be the start time for Vanguard season 1.

If that is the case, here are the other regional unlock times to look out for:

  • UK: 5pm GMT
  • Europe: 6pm CEST
  • East Coast US: 9am EST
  • West Coast US: 12pm PST

Is there a Call of Duty Vanguard Season 1 roadmap?

call of duty vanguard roadmap

There is! The above image shows you what the plans are for the start of Vanguard Season 1 and, as you can see, Activision is not taking things slowly when it starts and we will have a ton to do when we get to play it.

The roadmap tells us that the launch of CoD Vanguard Season 1 will bring new maps, modes, weapons and gear to Call of Duty: Vanguard as well as new zombies updates.

Also during Season 1, Vanguard-themed content in Warzone will include the new Caldera map, a new Rebirth Island map and some new combat vehicles, so there will be plenty of stuff to enjoy whether you’re a paying Vanguard customer or just a fan of the freebies on Warzone.

What new weapons will be in Call of Duty Vanguard Season 1?

While there will be new operatives and many other fresh things, all we have an idea about at the moment is a selection of the new weapons that are hotly rumoured to be added to the game thanks to Call of Duty News on Twitter.

  • M1944 Hyde: SMG
  • Well Gun: SMG
  • PTRS-41: Sniper Rifle
  • Nun-Chucks: Melee
  • Barong Escrima: Melee

As for everything else coming, including what’s next for zombies, we’ll let you know as soon as we hear anything.

What do we know about the Call of Duty Vanguard Season 1 Battle Pass?

While there is still plenty to be revealed, we do know a few exciting details about the Call of Duty: Vanguard Season 1 Battle Pass.

Activision stated on the Call of Duty blog: “When Season One launches on December 8, all Warzone players can gain access to everything that Vanguard brought to the arsenal and barracks.”

This includes 40 weapons, comprised of the “core 38 weapons from Vanguard’s launch, plus two free functional weapons in the Season One Battle Pass”.

Activision confirmed that “these can be personalized with unlocked camouflage, and every ballistics-based weapon can be further customized with up to 10 attachments through the Gunsmith”.

Activision also promised “more than a dozen operators”, teasing them like so: “Each of the Operators from S.O.T.F. 002–005 are ready to drop in alongside Special Operations Task Force 006 arriving this season…”

Does Vanguard Season 1 have cross-progression with Warzone?

When is the new Warzone map release date?


Yes, Vanguard Season 1 will have cross-progression with Warzone. As Activision promised in its aforementioned blog post: “At the start of the season, cross-progression between Vanguard and Warzone will be enabled, allowing you to rank up through Seasonal Prestige and unlock new content through the Battle Pass and Challenges.”

The blog post added: “Also, expect the Store in both games to contain new Bundles featuring Vanguard content.”

There will also be calling cards, emblems and more ways to “show off your progress in Vanguard since launch to everyone in Warzone.”

Call of Duty Vanguard Season 1 trailer

If you want a Call of Duty Vanguard Season 1 trailer then you are in luck as one was just released. Here it is below and it should give you an idea of what to expect when you first set foot on Caldera.

Read more on Call of Duty:

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Biden Loses Ground Among ‘Fearful’ Young Voters: Poll – U.S. News & World Report



Biden Loses Ground Among ‘Fearful’ Young Voters: Poll  U.S. News & World Report

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The Guardian: Trump tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of 2020 debate with Biden



The previously unknown positive test is disclosed in Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows’ memoir “The Chief’s Chief,” a copy of which was obtained by The Guardian ahead of the book’s publication next week.

Trump said in a statement Wednesday, “the story of me having COVID prior to, or during, the first debate is Fake News. In fact, a test revealed that I did not have COVID prior to the debate.”

CNN has reached out to Meadows and then-White House physician Dr. Sean Conley for comment.

Trump received the positive test on September 26, 2020, according to Meadows, The Guardian reported. That day Trump hosted a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, which was later deemed a super spreader event, by medical experts. At least 12 people who attended the event tested positive.

Trump, who Meadows said looked “a little tired,” was en route to a rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania, that night when Meadows received a call from Conley informing him that Trump tested positive for Covid-19, according to the excerpt. Meadows wrote that Conley told him, “Stop the president from leaving. He just tested positive for Covid.”

Meadows claims in his book that the positive test was done with an old model kit, The Guardian reported.

Trump was subsequently tested with “the Binax system” an antigen test for Covid-19, and returned a negative result, Meadows wrote. It is unclear if the first test which returned the positive result was an antigen test or PCR test.

According to the FDA’s guidelines, when using the Binax test, “Negative results do not rule out SARS-Covid-2 infection and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or patient management decisions, including infection control decision.”

Meadows wrote that Trump took the negative test as “full permission to press on as if nothing had happened,” but Meadows instructed those in Trump’s “immediate circle to treat him as if he was positive,” The Guardian reports.

“I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks,” Meadows wrote, according to The Guardian, “but I also didn’t want to alarm the public if there was nothing to worry about.”

A former senior White House official told CNN that word had circulated inside the West Wing before the first presidential debate that Trump had tested positive for Covid.

In between those dates, Trump appeared at a White House reception for Gold Star families and held a press briefing indoors on September 27, 2020. He also visited his golf club in Sterling, Virginia, earlier that day, according to pool reports.
Then-President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The following day, Trump held an event on the South Lawn of the White House, where he met with workers from Lordstown Motors, and later appeared in the White House Rose Garden to hail a new testing strategy for coronavirus.

On September 29, 2020, Trump traveled to Cleveland for his first presidential debate against his Democratic challenger Joe Biden. Trump arrived too late to be tested ahead of the debate, according to Fox News’ anchor Chris Wallace, who moderated the debate.

During the debate, Trump and Biden adhered to social distance protocols, but the two candidates — both in their 70s — were indoors in a room with dozens of people in the audience, some of whom were not masked.

Trump on September 30 traveled to Minnesota for an outdoor rally in Duluth and a private fundraiser in Minneapolis.

Trump announced early Friday, October 2, 2020 that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19. He was hospitalized later that night.

According to the White House, Trump tested positive for the coronavirus on October 1, just two days after the debate.

In a later interview with NBC News, Trump would not definitively say whether he was tested for Covid-19 on the day of his first debate against Biden and said he could not recall the last time he tested negative for coronavirus before testing positive on October 1.

During a news conference on October 3, 2020, as Trump was receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for Covid, Conley would not disclose Trump’s last negative test for the virus, saying, “I’m not going to get into all the testing going back, but he and all his staff routinely are tested.”

In his book, Meadows wrote that although he knew each candidate was required to test negative within 72 hours of the debate’s start time “…Nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there,” The Guardian reported.

After the then-president announced he had Covid, Meadows was refusing to tell his own staffers the precise timeline of when Trump had tested positive at the time, the former senior White House official added.

The official went on to say the virus simply was not taken seriously by some senior aides.

Staffers were sometimes in meetings and around other aides before going home sick with Covid.

“There was a bizarre indifference about getting others sick among some people in the west wing,” the official said.

A separate aide also said Meadows was keeping staffers in the dark about exact details of Trump’s illness.

Asked Wednesday about The Guardian report and whether he thought Trump put him at risk at the time, Biden told White House reporters, “I don’t think about the former President.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Gabby Orr and Kevin Liptak contributed to this reporting.

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