Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Billy Joe Royal born 3 April 1942

Billy Joe Royal (April 3, 1942 – October 6, 2015) was an American pop and country singer. He had a long career that saw him become one of the first pop performers to successfully revive his commercial fortunes by turning to straight country music. Although he never had another hit as successful as "Down in the Boondocks," he racked up about 15 singles that hit the country charts over the
course of the 1980s.

Royal was born into a family of musical entertainers in Valdosta, Georgia, and made his debut on his uncle's radio show at the age of 11. He learned to play steel guitar and joined the Georgia Jubilee in Atlanta at 14, performing with Joe South, Jerry Reed, and Ray Stevens, among several other artists. Royal had his own rock & roll band in high school and was regularly singing around Atlanta by the age of 16. He also spent time in Savannah, where he was influenced by African-American vocal styles and began to develop his distinctive vocal sound.  
Performing at a nightclub that also booked Sam Cooke and other African-American stars, Royal observed their vocal moves and began to practice them on his own time. In 1962, he recorded an independent single that went unnoticed. Royal and South roomed together for a time, and two or three years later South contacted him with a song he wanted Royal to sing as a demo, in the hope that Gene Pitney would record it. Royal flew from Cincinnati (where he was working at the time) to Atlanta and cut "Down in the Boondocks," whose churchy echo resulted from the use during recording of a large septic tank that had been dragged into the studio.
The demo ended up at Columbia in 1965, and the label signed Royal to a six-year deal. The song became Royal's breakthrough single, reaching number nine on the pop charts and briefly making the vocalist into a teen idol. Following its success, Royal had a string of lesser hits, including "I Knew You When" (Top 20, 1965) and "Hush" (1967), also written and produced by Joe South.
Another South composition, "Yo-Yo," just missed the top 40 in Canada and charted poorly in the U.S. when Royal released it in 1967, but a later remake by The Osmonds was a much greater success. His 1969 single, "Cherry Hill Park", peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.In the 1970s his recording of "Heart's Desire" gained popularity among Northern soul enthusiasts and was regularly played in Northern soul nightclubs.  In 1978, he recorded a cover of "Under the Boardwalk" and scored a minor hit.

By the late 1970s, Royal had become a regular performer in Las Vegas, and also appeared as an actor in movies and on television. His last hit on the US pop charts was in 1978, when his version of "Under the Boardwalk" became a minor hit. However, he reinvented himself in the 1980s as a mainstream country star, and had his first hit on the country music chart in 1984 with "Burned Like a Rocket", released on the Atlantic label. His other country hits included "I'll Pin a Note on Your Pillow" (1987), "Tell It Like It Is", and "Till I Can't Take It Anymore" (both 1989).. In 1988, Royal was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. His successes on the country charts continued until the early 1990s

Royal experienced a second comeback during the 2000s due to regular airplay on "oldies" radio stations. His music was further exposed to younger generations through a movement known as The Beat Army, an online music forum based on Facebook which is operated by author and music producer Paul Collins. Royal continued to tour regularly, performing concerts at casinos, music festivals and clubs in Canada, the United States, Japan and throughout Europe. His set lists included a mixture of songs representing multiple genres from the 1960s onwards. He also played Robert Ally in the indie Western film Billy the Kid (2013), co-starring country singer Cody McCarver.

Among the albums Billy Joe recorded were "Stay Close to Home," "Now and Then, Then and Now," and "His First Gospel Album," which was his last album. He died in his sleep at age 73 at his home in North Carolina on October 6, 2015. 

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “Billy Joe Royal ‎– Down In The Boondocks (1965)” go here:


1 Pollyanna 2:13
2 Leaning On You 2:16
3 Heartaches And Teardrops 2:24
4 Funny How Time Slips Away 2:57
5 My Fondest Memories 2:43
6 Down In The Boondocks 2:34
7 I Knew You When 2:32
8 Those Railroad Tracks In Between 2:05
9 Steal Away 2:15
10 Oh What A Night 2:00
11 King Of Fools 3:00
12 I've Got To Be Somebody 2:59

"Down In The Boondocks" gave Billy Joe Royal his breakthrough hit in 1965, charting at #9. His debut album followed, produced by Joe South and featuring many more of South's compositions. With Royal's quivering vocals to the forefront, it featured a distinctive style of pop music with hints of country and R&B, genres which were represented by covers of Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away" and Jimmy Hughes' "Steal Away". Two more of the South-penned songs saw release as singles and charted well - "I Knew You When" got to #14 and "I''ve Got To Be Somebody" reached #38.

A big thank you to Stuck In The Past for active link..