Singer-songwriter Joe South dies at 72

Sept. 8, 2012 at 12:56 PM
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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga., Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Joe South, a singer-songwriter whose hits included "Games People Play," has died of an apparent heart attack in Georgia, a longtime friend said. He was 72.

South -- who won two Grammys in 1970, including Song of the Year and Best Contemporary Song, for "Games People Play" -- died Wednesday at his home in Flowery Branch, Ga., his friend, Judy Thompson, said.

Born Joseph Alfred Souter Feb. 28, 1940, South was also known for "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden," recorded by Lynn Anderson and nominated for a Song of the Year Grammy, The New York Times reported. The song was No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart in 1971 and Anderson won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female.

Other musicians recorded several of his songs -- including Elvis Presley, who performed "Walk a Mile in My Shoes" in concert -- before South made a name for himself as a performer in the 1960s, the Times said.

South was also a prominent session musician, playing guitar on Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools" and Tommy Roe's "Sheila," as well as on Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" album. He also played on sessions with Eddy Arnold, Marty Robbins and Wilson Pickett, said.

He wrote "Hush," a hit for Deep Purple, and "Down in the Boondocks," a hit for Billy Joe Royal.

South went into seclusion in 1971 after his brother Tommy, a drummer with whom he recorded, committed suicide. He released the song "Oprah Cried" in 2009, his first recording in several years.

He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979 and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1981.

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