Thursday, October 8, 2015

Farewell: "I Knew You When"

This week on October 6th, we lost another voice of the '60s. American pop singer Billy Joe Royal passed away in his sleep at the age of 73 in his North Carolina home. His most successful record was "Down in the Boondocks" from 1965. After hearing a demo he recorded of the song (written by his friend, performer and songwriter Joe South), Columbia Records offered Royal a singing contract in 1965, and released his version of the song. "Down in the Boondocks" remained his best-known song, reaching # 9 on the Billboard chart and # 38 in the UK. He followed up with another hit single in '65 with "I Knew You When" (#14 in US, #1 in Canada), and later, "Cherry Hill Park," #15 in 1969. Royal became a regular performer in Vegas during the 1970s, and reinvented himself as a mainstream country star in the 1980s.

Here's a classic performance of his "wrong side of the tracks" theme, "Down In The Boondocks."

Here's another performance on Shindig! and some great vocals on "I Knew You When," also written by Joe South. (When I didn't know any better, I use to think this was a Tommy James song. My apologies, Mr. Royal). 

And can't forget about this tune with its barely disguised double-entendre lyrics about Mary Hill in "Cherry Hill Park."

Gone, but NOT forgotten! RIP Billy Joe Royal!