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Billie Jo Spears (born Billie Jean Spears, January 14, 1937, Beaumontmarker, Texasmarker, United Statesmarker) is an Americanmarker country music singer. In the 1970s, she landed a few country hits. Her best known hit is the 1975 song "Blanket on the Ground". She is known for bluesy voice.

Early life, rise to fame

Although Spears had her biggest country hits in the 1970s, she sounded more earthy and more grounded on records than other country music singers during that time. This was because during the height of Spears' career in the 1970s, country's sound moved more pop-sounding. This new type of Country was called countrypolitan, and the popular singers of this genre at the time were: Crystal Gayle, Lynn Anderson, Kenny Rogers, Ronnie Milsap, and Mac Davis. However, Spears, unlike so many of her contemporaries did not follow the trends of the day, and proved to Nashvillemarker that country music can still have a more earthy sound.

Spears was born in 1937 in Beaumontmarker, Texasmarker. She made her professional debut at only age 13, at a country music concert in Houston, Texasmarker. She cut her very first single while she was still a teenager called "Too Old For Toys, Too Young For Boys". The single was released by the indie label named Abbot. She released her first single under the name "Billie Jean Moore". She also performed on Louisiana Hayride. After graduating high school, she sang in nightclubs and was looking for a record deal. Spears' early career was orchestrated by famed country/rockabilly songwriter Jack Rhodes. Working out of his makeshift recording studio, Rhodes took it upon himself to provide Spears with material, as well as clout in her early years. Spears moved from Texas to Nashvillemarker, Tennesseemarker in 1964. She got her first recording contract with United Artists Records, and worked with producer Kelso Herston. Her first singles brought her little or no success. Soon her producer moved over to Capitol Recordsmarker, and Spears did the same. She earned a Capitol Recordsmarker recording contract in 1968.

She didn't have any success on the charts until the next year.

Height of her recording career

Spears finally struck gold in 1969, when her single "Mr. Walker It's All Over" became a big Country hit, reaching the Top 5. It even reached the Pop charts, at #80. The song was not just sassy, but also was full of spark. The song told of a secretary who was fed up of being discriminated against while doing her job, and wasn't afraid to say so. She had a Top 20 hit in 1970 called "Marty Gray", however, none of other singles were Country hits. Her success while under Capitol, began to fade away, shortly after 1970. However, for Capitol, Spears recorded some cover versions of popular Country hits, like "Ode to Billie Joe" (originally by Bobbie Gentry) and "Harper Valley PTA" (originally by Jeannie C. Riley). She also recorded novelty songs, like "Get Behind Me Satan and Push". According to the book Country Music: The Rough Guide, her vocals in that song sounded similar to that of Loretta Lynn. Soon however, she decided she would have more success it she switched record companies.

In 1975, she left Capitol and returned to United Artists Records, which was now the home to some of country music's pop-based acts, like Kenny Rogers. In 1975, came the single "Blanket on the Ground", and it hit #1 that year, and her career took off shortly after that. The song hit number one on the country charts in the United Statesmarker. In the United Kingdommarker the song climbed into the top five of the UK Singles Chart. An album of the same name was released that year, which was also a success. Spears' followed up "Blanket on the Ground" with the Top Ten "What I've Got In Mind." The track did even better across the Atlanticmarker, turning out to be a second top 5 British hit. Spears had successes with "Misty Blue" (a song covered by numerous other artists, including Wilma Burgess in the '60s, who made the song a Top 10 Country hit), "'57 Chevrolet," "Love Ain't Gonna Wait For Us," "If You Want Me," and others. 1981's cover version of Tammy Wynette's 1960s hit, "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad," was Spears' last voyage into America'smarker country top 20. Her Greatest Hits album was a Top Ten best seller, and furthered her fan base.

Later career, life today

By the mid 1980s, her success in the United States had tapered off. However, she retained a following in the UK, and remains a popular live performer there. Spears has recorded a number of albums for the British market that had limited, or even no release, in the US. This level of fame in the UK was summed up by the magazine, Country Music People, during the 1990s when their article described Spears as "The Queen Mother of country music." She continued releasing albums in the United States throughout much of the 1980s. However, by the late '80s, she did not record as much. She recovered from triple bypass surgery in 1993, now makes her home in Vidor, Texas, and continues to tour.

In 2005, Spears released the album I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry.

Discography

Albums

Year Album US Country Label
1968 The Voice of Billie Jo Spears Capitol
1969 Mr. Walker, It's All Over 26
Miss Sincerity 41
1970 With Love
Country Girl
1971 Just Singin'
1975 Blanket on the Ground 4 United Artists/Liberty
Billie Jo 45
1976 What I've Got In Mind Ain't Mine 7
By Request (w/ Del Reeves) 46
I'm Not Easy 36
1977 If You Want Me 39
1978 Lonely Hearts Club 46
Love's Gonna Wait for Us
1979 I Will Survive
1980 Standing Tall 70
1983 Today Ritz
2005 I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry


Singles

Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country US
1968 "He's Got More Love on His Little Finger" 48 The Voice of Billie Jo Spears
1969 "Mr. Walker, It's All Over" 4 80 Mr. Walker, It's All Over
"Stepchild" 43 Miss Sincerity
"Daddy, I Love You" 40 With Love
1970 "Marty Gray" 17 Country Girl
"I Stayed Long Enough" 30
1971 "It Could Have Been Me" 23 Just Singin'
1972 "Souvenirs and California Memories" 68 single only
1974 "See the Funny Little Clown" 80 Blanket on the Ground
1975 "Blanket on the Ground" 1 78
"Stay Away from the Apple Tree" 20 Billie Jo
"Silver Wings and Golden Rings" 20
1976 "What I've Got in Mind" 5 What I've Got in Mind Ain't Mine
"Misty Blue" 5
"On the Rebound" (w/ Del Reeves) 29 By Request
"Teardrops Will Kiss the Morning Dew" (w/ Del Reeves) 42
"Never Did Like Whiskey" 18 I'm Not Easy
1977 "I'm Not Easy" 11
"If You Want Me" 8 If You Want Me
"Too Much Is Not Enough" 18
"Lonely Hearts Club" 18 Lonely Hearts Club
1978 "I've Got to Go" 17
"'57 Chevrolet" 16
"Love Ain't Gonna Wait for Us" 24 Love Ain't Gonna Wait for Us
1979 "Yesterday" 60
"I Will Survive" 21 I Will Survive
"Livin' Our Love Together" 23
"Rainy Days and Stormy Nights" 21
1980 "Standing Tall" 15 Standing Tall
"Natural Attraction" 39
"Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad" 13 Only the Hits
1981 "What the World Needs Now Is Love" 58
1983 "Midnight Blue" 39 singles only
1984 "Midnight Love" 51


References



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