Billy Joe Royal, the pop and country singer who scored a Top Ten hit in 1965 with Joe South’s “Down in the Boondocks,” died in his sleep at his home in Morehead City, North Carolina on Tuesday, October 6th. He was 73.
Born in Valdosta, Georgia and raised in Marietta, Royal had subsequent minor hits with several of his friend Joe South’s other songs, including “I Knew You When,” “Yo-Yo” (later popularized by The Osmonds) and “Hush” (perhaps best known as the first hit for Deep Purple in 1968). In 1969, Royal reached number 15 on the Billboard singles chart with “Cherry Hill Park,” co-written by Robert Nix (later of the Atlanta Rhythm Section) and produced by Buddy Buie, J.R. Cobb and Emory Gordy, Jr.
With few chart successes in the ‘70s, in the 1980s Billy Joe Royal switched to a country sound and had hits with “Burned Like a Rocket,” “I’ll Pin a Note on Your Pillow,” “Tell It Like It Is” and “Till I Can’t Take it Anymore.” He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1988.