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Singer Billy Joe Royal dies

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 – Billy Joe Royal, who had a string of hits in the 1980s after a pop career 20 years earlier, died on Tuesday in his sleep at 73 in Morehead City, N.C.

Royal was born April 3, 1942 in Valdosta, Ga. and raised in Marietta, Ga. He became a local start at a Savannah, Ga. club in the 1950s and 1960s.

He scored a top 10 pop hit in 1965 with Joe South's "Down in the Boondocks." He had further pop hits including "Cherry Hill Park" in 1969 and had success among soul fans as well.

After a downturn in his career, Royal emerged on the country charts, although he later said his style had not changed.

His first country hit was "Burned Like a Rocket" in 1985, which reached number 10 on the Billboard charts. Royal said he thought the song would have done even better, but it had the misfortune of being on the charts when the Challenger space shuttle disaster occurred. As a result, country radio stopped playing the song.

Other hits included "I Miss You Already," Old Bridges Burn Slow," I'll Pin a Note On Your Pillow" and "Out of Sight And On My Mind."

While Royal never achieved a number 1, he had top 5 hits with "Tell It Like It Is," Love Has No Right" and "Till I Can't Take It Anymore," all in 1989.

Royal's last release was "His First Gospel Album" in 2009.

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