Country Singer Billy Joe Royal Dies at 73

Billy Joe Royal, who was known for his hits in both pop and country music, has died at the age of 73.

According to The Tennessean, Royal died in his sleep at his Marietta, N.C. home Oct. 6.

The Georgia native initially found success with his Top 10 pop single, "Down in the Boondocks". Throughout the '60s and '70s, Royal stayed active within the industry and earned a few more charting pop releases, including "Cherry Hill Park". In the '80s, he decided to shift gears musically and record his first country album under Atlantic Records.

His first country single, "Burned Like a Rocket", was rapidly climbing the charts in the spring of 1986. But after the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, deejays and listeners stopped spinning the track and Royal dropped off the charts.

Although his country career had a rough beginning, Royal went on to release 14 charting country singles. His 1987 album, The Royal Treatment, went gold and supplied the Top 10 hit, "I'll Pin a Note on Your Pillow". In 1989, his remake of Aaron Neville's hit "Tell It Like It Is" made it to No. 2 on the country singles chart.

Royal was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1988 and stayed active on the touring circuit up until his death. Funeral arrangements for Royal are currently pending.

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Country Singer Billy Joe Royal Dies at 73