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Revered Singer-Songwriter Joe South Passes Away

6 September 2012 | 2:43 pm | Dan Condon

The hitmaker was 72-years-old.

Revered American singer-songwriter Joe South has died of heart failure at the age of 72.

South, who was responsible for hits Down In The Boondocks, Hush and the enormous (I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden, was renowned as both a performer and a songwriter for other artists. His career kicked off in the tailend of the 1950s when he worked as a session musician in Nashville and Muscle Shoals and had his first hit in 1958 with the novelty song The Purple People Eater Meets The Witch Doctor.

His novelty song career didn't go much further than that, however, as he focused his efforts on playing with others (Bob Dylan's classic Blonde On Blonde and Simon & Garfunkel's The Sounds Of Silence just two of the great records he lent his talents to, though his involvement with the latter is contentious) and songwriting. Hush was an early hit for Deep Purple, while Down In The Boondocks was one of many great songs South penned for Billy Joe Royal.

South began performing under his own name in the 1960s and in 1968 picked up a Grammy Award for Song of the Year for his own performance of Games People Play. In 1971 South's brother Tommy committed suicide, Tommy has been the drummer in South's band and would play on the majority of sessions he produced and his death had a marked impact on South who proceeded to move to Maui and take a number of years off performing. When he did return he was reportedly an antagonistic figure onstage, making awkward comments to his audiences. In 1975 he released what would be his final solo record Midnight Rainbows and the next year teamed up with Billy Joe Royal for You're The Reason LP, which would be his final release.

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Lynn Anderson, who South penned a number of hits for, paid tribute to the artist today.

Here's Billy Joe Royal doing Down In The Boondocks.

South himself performs Games People Play.