Joe South, the singer-songwriter who penned and performed several hit songs, has died of a heart attack. He was 72. The Edmonton Journal describes South's career:
"He's one of the greatest songwriters of all time," said Butch Lowery, president of the Lowery Group, which published South's music. "His songs have touched so many lives. He's such a wonderful guy and loved by many."What I remember about him, growing up and listening to his music, is that Joe South was one of many performers at that time who was able to straddle several musical genres: pop, country, a little soul, and a lot of inventiveness.
South was an inductee in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
South's song "Down in the Boondocks" was a 1965 hit for singer Billy Joe Royal. South worked as a session guitar player on recordings such as Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools," and on albums such as Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" and LPs by Eddy Arnold and Marty Robbins.
His inventiveness was captured by Jeff Wall in the April 2007 issue of American Songwriter Magazine, retold on Joe South dot com:
South had a unique guitar sound having rewired and staggered the pickups in his Gretsch "Country Gentleman" guitar, which was indicative of his adventurous spirit and willingness to experiment in order to achieve the sound he was looking for.This experimentation, in both lyric and music, served Joe South well on many of his songs, one of them being "Games People Play."
South wrote songs for a variety of performers, including the Tams, Billy Joe Royal, Deep Purple, and Lynn Anderson. I doubt anyone could ever walk a mile in his shoes:
Joe South's versatility as a songwriter was noted by one of the early hard rock bands, Deep Purple. South, as I recall from a long ago interview I heard, liked Deep Purple's version of his song "Hush."
As the New York Times noted today about his biggest song:
Mr. South’s best-known song became a hit when it was recorded by someone else. “Rose Garden,” sung by Lynn Anderson, reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart in 1971, four years after Mr. South wrote it. The chorus — “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden/Along with the sunshine there’s gotta be a little rain sometime” — reflected a world-weariness characteristic of his writing.He may have wearied of the world, but we're not tired of remembering Joe South.