Singer-songwriter Joe South, who quietly racked up a string of behind-the-scenes musical achievements in addition to his signature hit song “The Games People Play,” has died, The New York Times reports. South died Wednesday at his home near Atlanta at 72, apparently of a heart attack.
South, born Joseph Alfred Souter, had a lasting impact on popular music, including writing the 1960s Billy Joe Royal hit “Down in the Boondocks” and Lynn Anderson’s 1971 hit “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden,” which reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart. South also wrote the song "Hush," which became an early hit for the rock band Deep Purple.
An accomplished guitarist, South did session work for many other artists, including appearing on one of Bob Dylan’s quintessential albums, “Blonde on Blonde,” in 1966. He also did session work behind Aretha Franklin, Marty Robbins and others.
He had a minor success early in his career as a recording artist with “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor” in 1958, but he became a star as a result of his 1969 hit recording “The Games People Play.” That song, which attacked insincerity in the name of religion, won a Grammy as song of the year in 1970.
He later had a few other minor hits, including “Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home” and “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” which was often covered by Elvis Presley.