This morning news broke that country music legend Billy Joe Royal passed away last night at the age of 73.  Reports surfaced that Royal died in his sleep last night peacefully.

Billy Joe Royal was living in Morehead City, North Carolina at the time of his death but he was originally from Valdosta, Georgia.  Royal began his career in the 1960's but not as a country artist but as a pop artist.

In the 1960's, Billy Joe Royal found success as a pop artists and was know for hits such as "Down in the Boondocks",  "I Knew You When", and "Hush".

In the 1980's, Royal transitioned over to the country genre and to me was when he exploded with great music and several top 10 hits that to me are now timeless classic's in country music.  Songs like "Tell It Like It Is", "Burned Like a Rocket", and "I'll Pin a Note on Your Pillow" are songs that everyone knows and when they are played in honkytonks to classic country show's on the radio, you know it's Billy Joe Royal.

Personally, I met Billy Joe Royal once when I was emceeing the Marshland Festival here in Lake Charles.  What a great guy.  Recently back in April of this year, I was at Coushatta Casino Resort emceeing a festival there and country music legend Ronnie McDowell was playing there.

Well Ronnie's son and a few band members came by and hung out with us at our chalet while we boiled crawfish.  Ronnie JR. came up to me and said "Hey someone wants to talk to you."  When I got on the phone, it was Billy Joe Royal.  He told me he wanted to say hi and see how I was doing.  He went on to say," I remember meeting you a few years back at the Marshland Festival and how nice you were to me and my band.  That made me feel so good!  Then he said, "Mike let me give you my phone number so we can keep in touch."

Well this morning when I found out the news, I went to my phone and there in my contacts was Billy Joe Royal's personal cell phone number.  I remember how nice and gracious he was to me.  I will never erase his number from my phone ever in memory of a great guy.

Here is a video of his iconic song "Tell It Like It Is".