Saturday, 10 October 2015

Singer Billy Joe Royal dies Aged 73

Previous plays on Marie Crichton Country show:
28 March 2011: Billy Joe Royal - Mama’s Song (CD-Down In The Boondocks  (Birth 3 April-1942 )
2 April 2012: Billy Joe Royal - Those Railroad Tracks In Between  CD -Down In The Boondocks / Cherry Hill Park

Billy Joe Royal 1942-2015
Born April 3, 1942 Valdosta, Georgia, US | Died October 6, 2015 (aged 73) Morehead City, North Carolina, US
Instruments: Vocals, acoustic guitar, piano
Billy Joe Royal - Montage

Country and Pop artist Billy Joe Royal, passed away Tuesday October 6, 2015 at his home in North Carolina.  He was 73.
Even as a kid, he knew music was central to his personality. Like many of his peers, he recognized that it could also be his source of income after he saw Elvis Presley—another guy who mixed, pop, country and R&B—on The Tommy Dorsey Show.  “When he made it so big,” Royal reflected, “all us Southern boys thought maybe we had a shot, too.”
Initially Royal found recognition as a star at the Bamboo Ranch during the 1950s and 1960s in Savannah.
Royal first gained notoriety in 1965 with “Down In The Boondocks,” a top 10 Pop hit (#9 Billboard Hot 100; UK: #38 on the Record Retailer chart).
Watch Mr. Billie Joe Royal perform “Down in the Boondocks” (Live) recorded in 1999 on Rock -n- Roll Graffiti.

The song helped Royal earn a spot on the Dick Clark Caravan Of Stars, a grueling package tour that bonded him to such fellow performers as Herman’s Hermits, Jackie DeShannon and Peter & Gordon, with a backing band that featured several future members of Chicago. Clark’s end-of-the-tour wrap party required that all the guests dress like another artist on the bill, and the results bonded a number of the performers.
Tom Jones, Mel Carter, Peter Asher and myself dressed up as The Shirelles,” Royal shared. “We showed up in chiffon dresses and threw some wigs on. It was really crazy. Somebody took a picture and I’ve still got it.”

Follow up hits included “I Knew You When” and “Cherry Hill Park,” (>> YouTube; Top 20, 1965; #15 Billboard Hot 100) the latter of which was his last Pop success in 1969. ‘I Knew You When’ was in theme and vocal delivery similar to Gene Pitney's hits. Royal’s subsequent records were not as successful, but he failed to appreciate the potential of ‘Rose Garden’, as it later became a hit for Lynn Anderson.
“Cherry Hill Park” along with "Hush" (1967; >> YouTube Audio), were written and produced by Joe South.
"Hush" was subsequently recorded by Britian hard rock band Deep Purple (>> YouTube Audio) for their 1968 debut album SHADES OF DEEP PURPLE. The track became the group's first hit single peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 (dated 21–28 Sept, 1968) and #2 in Canada while going largely unnoticed in the UK.

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.
Country fans probably remember Mr. Royal best from his late 1985 single, “Burned Like A Rocket” (>> YouTube audio; written by Gary Burr), which shot up the charts and had landed in the top 10 by January of 1986. But late in that month, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff, killing the entire crew. Sensitivity over the title of the record forced radio to back off airplay, and the song quietly went away.
We thought we had a number one record. It was selling so well,” Royal recalled. “I remember that I was in (producer) Nelson Larkin’s office watching TV, and we saw the shuttle go down. For some reason, it didn’t dawn on me that it would affect my record, but radio dropped it like a hot potato.” But, it wasn’t the end of his country career. “By that time, it was in the top ten, so the song really led to a great period for me.”

"I'll Pin a Note on Your Pillow" (>> YouTube ; written by Carol W. Berzas Jr., Don Goodman and Nelson Larkin) released by Atlantic in October 17, 1987 as the first single from Billy Joe's album THE ROYAL TREATMENT reached #5 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart. The Royal Treatment LP (Amazon UK) was certified Gold.
Royal was back in 1989, covering the 1966 classic “Tell It Like It Is” (>> YouTube Audio writers George Davis and Lee Diamond) which reached #2 on the Country chart. His 1989 remake of the Aaron Neville hit "Tell It Like It Is" just missed the chart summit, landing at No.2 and that same year, he bagged a second #2 country single with "Till I Can't Take It Anymore." (>>YouTube Audio)

He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1988.
He experienced a late and unexpected resurgence among millennials in the 2000s.
This significant, and what some consider second major period in his music popularity, was due to regular airplay on oldies stations. 
In recent years, he toured with longtime friend and fellow crossover artist B.J. Thomas, releasing the 2007 LP GOING BY DAYDREAMS, on Thomas's Raindrops Records label… Read more:

Royal's most recent project, His First Gospel Album: Hard Rock to Roll, was released in Dec, 2009 (Gusto Records (2) - GT7-2125-2 | Amazon UK |

Mr. Royal is survived by his ex-wife Michelle Royal, daughter Savannah Royal and setpsons Trey and Joey Riverbank.

Singer BJ Thomas was among the first to share the news with fans. “My best friend Billy Joe Royal, died this morning,” he tweeted. “He was a sweet and talented man. Never a bad word. One of a kind.”

The men of Shenandoah also shared a kind word about Royal, saying their former tourmate was a “sweet guy.” Little information has been released about the 73-year-old’s death, but WSMV-TV in Nashville reported it happened in his North Carolina home. Singer Ronnie McDowell also confirmed the news. The two were touring partners who were set to return to the road in November.

Billy Joe Royal - Greatest Hits (Feb 1991): Twenty years after his first pop hit, Billy become a country star on Atlantic.
Here are 10 key moments from his '80s rebirth: his Top 10s Burned Like a Rocket; I'll Pin a Note on Your Pillow; Out of Sight and on My Mind; Tell It Like It Is; Love Has No Right; Till I Can't Take It Anymore , and more!

Top Albums by Billy Joe Royal Amazon UK |

The Complete Early Recordings 1961-1966 (Dynamic Voice Records) is to be released 30 Oct. 2015 Amazon UK

Greatest Hits:


Associated Press/ Daily Mail
Billboard (by Chuck Dauphin): Billy Joe Royal Dies at 73
Rollingstone: Billy Joe Royal, Country and Pop Singer, Dead at 73
Country Weekly: Billy Joe Royal Dies at Age 73
Taste Of Country: Billy Joe Royal Dead at 73 |
Chattanooga Billy Joe Royal 1942-2015 

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