Joe South (born Joseph Alfred Souter; February 28, 1940 – September 5, 2012) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist and record producer. Best known for his song writing, South won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1970 for "Games People Play" and was again nominated for the award in 1972 for "Rose Garden".
Joe South began his career as a country musician, performing on an Atlanta radio station and joining Pete Drake's band in 1957. The following year, he recorded a novelty single, "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor," and became a session musician in Nashville and at Muscle Shoals.
In 1959, South wrote two songs which were recorded by Gene Vincent: "I Might Have Known", and "Gone Gone Gone." 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. 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.
South was also a prominent sideman, playing guitar on Tommy Roe's "Sheila", Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde album, and Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools". South played electric guitar on Simon & Garfunkel's second album, "Sounds of Silence", although Al Gorgoni and/or Vinnie Bell feature on the title track.
South also appeared on records by Marty Robbins, Eddy Arnold, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett. During the '60s, South began working on his song writing, crafting hits for Deep Purple ("Hush") and several for Billy Joe Royal, including "Down in the Boondocks."
Responding to late 1960s issues, South's style changed radically. He began recording his own material in 1968, scoring a hit with "Games People Play" the following year (purportedly inspired by Eric Berne's book of the same name). 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.
While South produced hits like "Don't It Make You Want to Go Home" and "Walk a Mile in My Shoes," Lynn Anderson had a smash country and pop hit in 1971 with South's "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden."
South took several years off after his brother's suicide in 1971, moving to Maui and living in the jungles. He had proven a rather prickly character, recording a song entitled "I'm a Star"; he was also busted for drugs and, never entirely comfortable performing, was known for an antagonistic stance in concert.
South briefly returned in 1975 with the Midnight Rainbows LP but retired from recording and performing soon afterwards. He returned in 1994 in a London concert showcasing American Southern performers and later re-entered the music publishing industry. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979 and became a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1981.
On September 13, 2003, South performed during the Georgia Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony and played with Buddy Buie, James B. Cobb, Jr. and Chips Moman.
South's final recording, "Oprah Cried", was made in 2009 and released as a bonus track on the re-release of the albums So the Seeds are Growing and A Look Inside on one CD. He died from a heart attack at his home in Georgia in September of 2012, at the age of 72 years old. (Info edited from AMG & Wikipedia)