Joe South died aged seventy-two at his home in Buford, Georgia, U.S.A. on 5th September 2012, of heart failure. Both Joe and his second wife, Jan who died in 1999, are buried in Mount Harmony Memorial Gardens Cemetery, in Mableton, Cobb County, Georgia, U.S.A.
Joe South was born Joseph Alfred Souter on twenty-eighth of February, 1940 and was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer.
Joe started his pop career in July 1958 with the NRC Records novelty hit "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor". After this hit, Joe South's music grew increasingly serious.
In 1959, Joe South wrote two songs which were recorded by Gene Vincent: "I Might Have Known", which was on the album Sounds Like Gene Vincent , and "Gone Gone Gone" which was included on the album The Crazy Beat of Gene Vincent.
Joe South had met and was encouraged by Bill Lowery, an Atlanta music publisher and radio personality. He began his recording career in Atlanta with the National Recording Corporation, where he served as staff guitarist along with other NRC artists Ray Stevens and Jerry Reed. Joe South's earliest recordings have been re-released by NRC on CD. He soon returned to Nashville with The Manrando Group and then onto Charlie Wayne Felts Promotions.
Joe South was also a prominent sideman, playing guitar on Tommy Roe's "Sheila", Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde album, and the classic tremolo intro on Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools".
Billy Joe Royal recorded five Joe South songs: "Down in the Boondocks", "I Knew You When", "Yo-Yo", "Hush", and "Rose Garden" .
Responding to late 1960s issues, Joe South's style changed radically, most evident in his biggest single, 1969's "Games People Play" , a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Accompanied by a lush string sound, an organ, and brass, the production won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Song and the Grammy Award for Song of the Year. Joe South followed up with "Birds of a Feather" and two other soul-searchers, the back-to-nature "Don't It Make You Want to Go Home" and the socially provocative "Walk a Mile in My Shoes",also covered by Elvis Presley in a Las Vegas era version, Bryan Ferry, and Coldcut.
Joe South's most commercially successful composition was Lynn Anderson's 1971 country/pop monster hit "Rose Garden", which was a hit in 16 countries worldwide. Anderson won a Grammy Award for her vocals, and Joe South earned two Grammy Nominations for it, as Best Country Song and (general) Song of the Year. Joe South wrote more hits for Anderson, such as "How Can I Unlove You" and "Fool Me" . Freddy Weller, Jeannie C. Riley, and Penny DeHaven also had hits on the Billboard country chart with Joe South songs. In addition, other artists who have recorded Joe South-penned songs include Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Loretta Lynn, Carol Burnett, Andy Williams, Kitty Wells, Dottie West, Jim Nabors, Arlen Roth, Liz Anderson, The Georgia Satellites, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Ike & Tina Turner, Hank Williams Jr., James Taylor, the Tams, and k. d. lang.
In 1971 the suicide of Joe South's brother, Tommy, resulted in Joe becoming clinically depressed. Tommy South had been his backing band's drummer and accompanied Joe South not only in live performances but also on recording sessions when Joe South produced hits for other artists. In an interview with Amy Duncan of Christian Science Monitor, Joe South said that he didn't see himself doing drugs for the kicks but he did it more or less to keep going, and to tap into inspiration and that he equated the chemicals with the inspiration. Joe South lived for a time in the 1970s on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
No information is available about Joe South's first marriage, divorce or his first wife. In 1987, Joe South married his second wife, Jan Tant, and said his second marriage helped turn things around, and his wife's inspiration helped him return to writing songs and occasional appearances in public.
Joe South fathered one child, son Craig South, who is a voice-over artist in Southern California.
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