Billy Joe imperial is best-known for the 1965 pop hit “Down in the Boondocks.” “The sound that it to be different,” the singer said.

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Singer Billy Joe Royal, that scored a memorable peak 10 popular music hit in 1965 v “Down in the Boondocks” and later came to be a nation star, died Oct. 6 at his home in Morehead City, N.C. He was 73.

He died in his sleep, his stepson Trey Rivenbark said.

Born in Valdosta, Ga., on April 3, 1942, imperial was exposed to nation music at a young age, singing v his uncle’s band.

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“They had actually a radio display in Valdosta, and they let me sing,” he said in a 2010 interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And for some reason, i knew it is what I want to do. I just wanted to it is in in music.”

By the moment he was in high institution in Marietta, he to be singing v a absent band referred to as the Corvettes. Affected by Elvis Presley, imperial swiveled his hips so much throughout a school show that officials prohibition the Corvettes from play at assemblies.

“It was evident to all of us the Billy Joe to be the one through the talent,” Mickey Carlile, a member the the band, told the Journal-Constitution in 2006. “Billy Joe provided to say, ‘One of this days, girlfriend will view my name in lights.’ ”

In the late 1950s, he developed his tenor voice and singing style at Atlanta clubs, sometimes doing five sets a night. He obtained to meet and also sometimes do with stars, consisting of B.B. King, Roy Orbison, the Drifters and most memorably, Sam Cooke.

“He was my idol,” imperial said in the 2010 Journal-Constitution interview. “The 2nd time he was there, he placed his arm around me and also said, ‘You simply keep getting far better and better.’

“For a kid, ns can’t tell you how that felt.”

Most important to his career, he worked with songwriter and producer Joe South, that wrote “Down in the Boondocks” — a song about a pair that young lovers from opposite sides of the tracks.

I love her, she loves me,

But i don’t fit in her society.

Lord have mercy ~ above the boy

from under in the boondocks.

“I guess people related to bad people,” royal told the Chicago Tribune in 1990. “Plus the sound of it to be different. We reduced it on a three-track maker — the many primitive point in the world.”

With that repetitive, “down in the boondocks” reframe that acquired stuck in listeners’ minds, the song reached No. 9 on the Billboard chart. It to be the highest possible he ever reached top top the pop charts, but Royal also found success with other songs in that era, consisting of “Cherry Hill Park” and “Hush.”

He graduated to bigger live shows, including tours produced by penis Clark, and in 1970, royal played las Vegas, whereby he met and even hung out v Presley.

Royal relocated to Los Angeles, however his brand of pop music to be falling out of favor. He likewise had personal problems. “I to be going with hell. I was obtaining a divorce,” he told the Journal-Constitution. Yet he i found it that other singers who had actually pop hits had efficiently switched genres.

“Kenny Rogers lived down the street native me,” royal recalled, “and Kenny to be tearing the human being up singing country music. So was B.J. Thomas.”

Royal moved earlier to Georgia and eventually landing in Nashville, where he functioned to revive his career. That looked favor he can have a huge hit in 1986 v “Burned choose a Rocket.” yet just as the track was gaining in popularity, the Challenger space shuttle tragedy occurred. The song had actually nothing to perform with an are travel, however given that title, radio stations stopped playing it.

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Royal went on to carry out well with nation songs such as “I’ll pin a keep in mind on her Pillow,” “Tell It favor It Is” and also “‘Till i Can’t take it It Anymore.”

In 2010, that announced he would end his last main tour through a concert in Marietta, not much from the school that when banned him. The remembered his time there, prior to national fame, v fondness.

“Everybody knew everybody, and everybody liked everybody,” he said in the 2010 Journal-Constitution interview. “It to be the greatest place to grow up in the world. Every we ever before did to be laugh.”

Royal is survived by his daughter, Savannah Royal; mommy Mary Royal; brother Jack Royal; stepsons Trey and also Joey Rivenbark; and also two grandchildren.