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Country singer Billie Jo Spears dies at 73

December 15th, 2011 4:11 am by Associated Press

VIDOR, Texas (AP) — Billie Jo Spears, whose performance of "Blanket on the Ground" went No. 1 on the country charts in 1975, died Wednesday at age 73, a funeral official in Texas said.

Carl Willis, a spokesman with R.S. Farmer Funeral Home in Silsbee, which is handling the arrangements, confirmed her death but had no details. The Orange Leader reported she died Wednesday morning at her home in the Southeast Texas town of Vidor, 85 miles northeast of Houston. No cause of death was stated.

The Beaumont native performed as a 13-year-old on the Louisiana Hayride radio program out of Shreveport, La., considered at the time a stepping stone to Nashville's Grand Ole Opry.

She worked as a secretary until her music career took off and she left Texas for Nashville in the mid-1960s. Her career suffered in the early 1970s when she had trouble with her vocal cords, but she scored her chart-topper in 1975 and was voted most promising female vocalist by the Academy of Country Music in 1976.

Her other hits included "Mr. Walker, It's All Over in 1969; "What I've Got in Mind' in 1976; "Misty Blue" in 1976; and "If You Want Me" in 1977.

She recorded duets with country singer Del Reeves and performed at the prestigious Wembley Festival in England a few times in the 1970s, cementing her following in the United Kingdom before her recording career tailed off in the mid-1980s.

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