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Billy Joe Royal

Billy Joe Royal

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Singer Billy Joe Royal enjoyed a successful musical career which spanned over forty years and encompassed the pop, rock, and country music genres. He was born on April 3, 1942 in Valdosta, Georgia and raised in Marietta, Georgia. Royal hailed from a family of musical entertainers. Billy Joe made his public debut at age five in a first-grade performance for the PTA and sang on his uncle's radio show at age eleven. At age fourteen Royal learned how to play the steel guitar and joined the Georgia Jubilee. He fronted his own rock band at age sixteen which performed around Atlanta. In addition, Billy Joe was a local singing sensation at the Bamboo Ranch in Savannah, Georgia in the 1950's and early 1960's.

Royal recorded a single in 1962 that flopped. Billy Joe scored a massive top 10 hit in 1965 with "Down in the Boondocks," which peaked at #9 and turned Royal into a teen idol for a short spell. The follow-up songs "I Knew You When," "I've Got To Be Somebody," and "Cherry Hill Park" all likewise cracked the Billboard top 40. When Royal's career faltered in the late 1970's, he became a regular performer in both Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. Billy Joe bounced back in the 1980's as a country singer; the songs "Burned Like a Rocket," "I'll Pin a Note on Your Pillow," and "Tell It Like It Is" were all top 10 country chart hits. Royal acted in the Shakespearean rock opera "Catch My Soul," made an uncredited appearance singing the folk ballad "Mountain Woman" in the bizarre horror picture "A Name for Evil," and narrated the groovy rock documentary "Mondo Daytona." He also acted in several TV commercials. His signature tune "Down in the Boondocks" is featured on the soundtracks for the films "Glory Road" and "Riding in Cars with Boys." 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. Moreover, Royal continued to perform on stage in country bars all over the South.
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