Birthday: Billy Joe Royal

Decades after Billy Joe Royal scored a major pop/rock hit with "Down in the Boondocks," he shifted his focus to country music, where he found further success.

Born April 3, 1945, in Valdosta, Ga., Royal was raised in a family of musicians. He learned steel guitar and performed regularly throughout high school. Not long after he graduated, he recorded "Down in the Boondocks" (RealAudio excerpt), an instant hit that earned him a six-year contract with Columbia.

Royal never matched his initial success on the pop charts, and throughout the '70s he focused more on television shows and commercials.

In 1984, he reignited his career, this time as a country star, when the success of "Burned Like a Rocket" (RealAudio excerpt) earned him a contract with Atlantic. He had a string of country hits through the late '80s, and throughout the '90s he toured extensively.

Other birthdays today: Curtis Stone, 50; Stuart Swanlund, 42; Johnny Horton, 1925–1960.