Billie Jo Spears passed away today and I had no idea that a country legend lived so close to us. Thanks to a sultry, bluesy voice that made her a perfect torch balladeer; while she never quite edged her way into stardom in the U.S., she earned a devoted following in Great Britain and toured there frequently.

Spears was born in Beaumont, TX, in 1937 and made her professional debut at age 13 in an all-star country concert in Houston.

Country singer Billie Jo Spears, best known for her chart-topping hit ‘Blanket on the Ground,’ died on Wednesday morning. KCNE television in Waco, Texas reports that the singer died in her home in Vidor, Texas at the age of 74.

Spears first tried Nashville in the mid-’60s but didn’t enjoy her greatest success until the years following the 1975 release of ‘Blanket on the Ground.’ While the Beaumont, Texas native had charted a few songs prior to her No. 1 hit — most notably ‘Mr. Walker, It’s All Over’ in 1969 — 12 of her next 13 releases reached the Top 20, including ‘Misty Blue’ and ’57 Chevrolet.’

Her recording career tapered off in the ’80s, but Spears continued to tour across America and England until recently. In March 2005, she released her final album, ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.’

According to KCNE, arrangements are being handled by R.S. Farmer Funeral Home in Silsbee, Texas, but no firm details about a memorial service have been announced.

Watch Billie Jo Spears Sing ‘Blanket on the Ground’