- Billie Jo Spears
Infobox musical artist
Name = Billie Jo Spears
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Billie Jean Spears
Alias = Billie Jo Spears
Born = Birth date and age|1937|1|14|mf=y
Genre = Country
Years_active = 1964–Present
Label = Abbot Records
United Artists Records
Margo Smith, Tanya Tucker
Billie Jo Spears (born Billie Jean Spears
January 14 1937) is an American country musicsinger. 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 earthly and more grounded on records than other singers trying to pass for country music 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 Nashvillethat country music can still have a more earthly sound.
Spears was born in 1937 in Beaumont,
Texas. She made her professional debut at only age 13, at a country music concert in Houston, Texas. She cut her very first single while she was still a teenagercalled "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 nightclubsand was looking for a record deal. Spears moved from Texas to Nashville, Tennesseein 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 Records, and Spears did the same. She earned a Capitol Records recording contractin 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
secretarywho 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 States. The song did well in the United Kingdom, as well; the song climbed into the top five in 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 Atlantic, 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 Burgessin 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 versionof Tammy Wynette's 1960s hit, "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad," was Spears' last voyage into America's 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 Motherof 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 surgeryin 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".
* [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:tme997ejkrht~T1 Billie Joe Spears biography] at
Guinness Book of British Hit Singles- 19th Edition - ISBN 1-904994-10-5
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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