Singer Billy Joe Royal Dies at 73

Veteran country and pop singer Billy Joe Royal died in his sleep at his home in North Carolina on Tuesday. He was 73.

Singer B.J. Thomas shared the tragic news on Twitter.

“My best friend Billy Joe Royal died this morning. He was a sweet and talented man. Never a bad word. One of a kind,” Thomas wrote on Tuesday evening.

Royal is best known for his 1960s hits “Down in the Boondocks,” “I Knew You When” and “Cherry Hill Park,” which was his last single to appear on the Top-40 chart.

He left Columbia Records for short stints at smaller labels in the ’70s, eventually working for Mercury Records, where he released a self-titled album in 1980, before settling down with Atlantic Records in his adopted hometown of Nashville in the late ’80s. His biggest country tracks included “If the Jukebox Took Teardrops” and “Searchin’ for Some Kind of Clue.”

The singer’s most recent project was the 2009 album “His First Gospel Album.” He was set to tour with Ronnie McDowell this fall.

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