Joe South in September 2009 at the 31st Annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards held at the World Congress Center. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
Singer, songwriter and musician Joe South died Wednesday morning. The Atlanta native was 72 years old.
South hit the music charts as a singer and composer in the 1960's and 1970's.
Bill (Butch) Lowery III, whose father first published South's music, says South died near Atlanta. (The Associated Press reports that South died at home in Buford, according to the Hall County Coroner's office.)
A spokeswoman for Bill Lowery Music, Karin Johnson, told 13WMAZ's Kenny Burgamy that South died of heart failure resulting from an infection.
Joe South's 1969 recording of "Games People Play" was a Top 20 hit and won two Grammy Awards. He's also known for "Walk a Mile in My Shoes," a song also covered by Elvis Presley. He wrote hits including "Down in the Boondocks," sung by Billy Joe Royal, and "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden," the signature hit for Lynn Anderson. His song "Hush" became the first U.S. hit for British rock group Deep Purple.
As a guitarist, South recorded with artists ranging from Eddy Arnold and Marty Robbins, to Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, to Simon & Garfunkel and Bob Dylan.
South was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1981.
South is also a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
South was born Joseph Souter in Atlanta. His career was boosted by Bill Lowery, who owned Atlanta radio stations and hosted an amateur talent show on radio as "Uncle Eb." According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, one of South's earliest songwriting efforts was a collaboration with his mother that they performed on Lowery's radio show.
In the 1950's and still a teenager, South worked as a musician in Lowery's recording company in Atlanta. The "house band" also included future stars Ray Stevens and Jerry Reed. South became a session musician in Nashville and Muscle Shoals, Ala. where he backed recordings by some of music's greats.
After a string of hits as a singer and songwriter, South largely disappeared from the music scene after his brother committed suicide in 1971.
OFFICIAL JOE SOUTH WEBSITE: joesouth.com
MORE: Joe South in the New Georgia Encyclopedia