I was sorry to read that Billie Jo Spears died earlier this week at her home in Texas. She was a country music star for many years and was featured here in a piece two years ago. I’ve reposted it below, along with a different song.
(Reposted from Jan 2010)
A country songbird I’ve always enjoyed listening to is Billie Jo Spears, who has had a long career specializing in a blend of honky-tonk and pure country blues. Although she’s probably best known for her 1975 chart-topping hit “Blanket on the Ground,” she’s had several decades of solid success — albeit with a few snags along the way.
The Texas native was a precocious talent, appearing at regional events while still in her early teens. She even cut a record in those days, the descriptively-named “Too Old for Toys, Too Young for Boys.” By her late teens she’d begun to make regular club appearances, but even though she continued to pursue a career for the next few years she found limited success.
After moving to Nashville in the early Sixties she was able to sign a new recording contract, but the next few years still weren’t smooth ones for Spears. The record-buying public didn’t rush to buy her initial efforts, and it wasn’t until she later changed record companies that she began to finally find some real success. Her 1969 recording of “Mr. Walker, It’s All Over” became a solid country hit, climbing near the top of the charts. She was on her way.
As the decade of the Seventies began she kept up her momentum with several good selling records, but then once again had to deal with disappointment. Polyps on her vocal cords required her to undergo two bouts of surgery, but she eventually made a full recovery, and in 1975 she proved it — her “Blanket on the Ground” shot to the top of the charts.
Over the next few years, Spears continued to do well with songs like “Misty Blue,” “What I’ve Got in Mind”, and “If You Want Me.” Along the way she built a solid fan base, and was especially appreciated in Great Britain. She has continued to record and perform in years since, although health concerns have slowed her down from time to time. She still has many admirers and continues to be a special favorite of British fans.