NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country singer Sonny James, who recorded romantic ballads like "Young Love" and turned pop songs into country hits, has died. He was 87.

James, whose given name was James Loden, died Monday in a Nashville hospice facility, according to a family friend, Gary Robble, who was also the lead singer of James' backing band, the Southern Gentlemen.

James was known as the "Southern Gentleman" because of his gentle demeanor. He became one of the most successful country singers by the mid-'60s, with 16 No. 1 records from 1967 to 1971. His other hits included "It's the Little Things," ''You're the Only World I Know" and "I'll Never Find Another You."

James was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006.