Birth Name

 Billy Joe Royal


  April 3, 1942. Valdosta, Georgia, USA


  Rock and roll, Country


  Singer, actor


  Vocals, acoustic guitar, piano

  Years Active



  Sussex, Columbia, Atlantic


  Official Website






A Ring Where A Ring Used To Be Lyrics
  Before The Night Is Over Lyrics
  Boardwalk Angel Lyrics
  Burn Like A Rocket Lyrics
  Cherry Hill Park Lyrics
  Cross My Heart And Hope To Try Lyrics
  Down In The Boondocks Lyrics
  Drift Away Lyrics
  For The Longest Time Lyrics
  Funny How Time Slips Away Lyrics
  Goodnight Saigon Lyrics
  Hush Lyrics
  I Knew You When Lyrics
  I Miss You Already Lyrics
  If The Jukebox Took Teardrops Lyrics
  I'll Pin A Note On Your Pillow Lyrics
  It Keeps Right On Hurtin' Lyrics
  Kiss And Say Goodbye Lyrics
  Look What You've Done To My Heart Lyrics
  Love Has No Right Lyrics
  Old Bridges Burn Slowly Lyrics
  Out Of Sight And On My Mind Lyrics
  Save the Last Dance for Me Lyrics
  She Don't Cry Like She Used To Lyrics
  She's Always A Woman To Me Lyrics
  She's Everything I Wanted You To Be Lyrics
  Slip Away Lyrics
  Stand By Me Lyrics
  Tell It Like It Is Lyrics
  Till I Can't Take It Anymore Lyrics
  Up On The Roof Lyrics
  What's The Matter Baby Lyrics
  Members Only with Donna Fargo Lyrics


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Best known for his country-flavoured rock hit "Down in the Boondocks," Billy Joe Royal 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, 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.

 He also did a bit of acting on television, in feature films, and in commercials. During the early '80s Royal worked on establishing himself as a country artist. In 1984, he broke through when he recorded the Gary Burr composition "Burned Like a Rocket"; it was picked up by the Atlantic label, which signed Royal to a contract. The single became a hit and reached the country Top Ten in early 1986. Over the next two years he had a string of Top 40 hits, breaking into the Top Ten in late 1987 once again with "I'll Pin a Note on Your Pillow." In 1989, Royal released the album Tell It Like Is; the title cut, a remake of the venerable soul standard, became his biggest hit, peaking at number two, while the album itself stayed in the Top 15 for over a year.

 By 1990, Royal's style of pop-inflected country had been replaced by neo-traditional honky tonk at the top of the charts, and his popularity began to decline. He continued to have minor hits into 1992 and toured into the 2000s. Royal launched a comeback with the 1998 album Stay Close to Home & a host of reissues of Royal's work testified to his status as a vocal craftsman whose success transcended genre.

Reference:  Sandra Brennan & James Manheim AllMusic




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