Joe South 1940 – 2012

Joe South

Singer, session player and songwriter Joe South (seen here in the sixties) has died aged 72. South wrote the track Hush, which was a pivotal moment in the Deep Purple story when the decided to record a cover version in 1968 (having heard a cover by Kris Ife). Purple’s version became a massive American hit.

Thanks to Mark Maddock

Tags: ,

13 Responses to “Joe South 1940 – 2012”

  1. Mohan Thampi. Says:

    Somewhat belated but I only heard about Joe South’s passing a week later through DPAS email. Somewhat surprised that one of America’s most talented songwriters with a repertoire of well known iconic songs has been somewhat forgotten by the media though some of them made of for it later. For us DP fans, “Hush” written by Joe South has a special place and the song still sounds as fresh and exciting alongside DP’s later hits. Interesting that “Hush” was a monster hit for a band which would later be identified as the “Loudest Band In The World” – literally the opposite.
    I actually remember Lynn Anderson’s “Rose Garden” being very popular and played on the radio a lot but not then knowing it was written by Joe South. Some years later in 1974 I would be hooked or rather “Burn”ed into a band called Deep Purple who I later found had an instant megahit with a Joe South song called “Hush” though some identified it as originally written by Billy Joe Royal. Listening to Joe South’s other LPs and hits by other performers, his songs were among the best but then he suddenly disappeared from the music scene for a while.
    I was surprised to find out that he had played on Bob Dylan’s album. I consider Dylan more a lyricist with only some good songs which were better interpreted and given iconic status by others like Jimi Hendrix. In my opinion Joe was a better songwriter than Dylan but Joe does not get the accolades. At least through DP and its fans, Joe South has not and never will be forgotten. One website said Joe South very much liked DP’s version.
    I have listened to other versions of “Hush”including Billy Joe Royal, Santa Esmeralda, Kula Shaker, great stuff but DP’s version was the best and unusual in that DP improvised on the song, adding amazing keyboard and guitar runs and a restless, rappy and speedy drum beat which gave it an urgency and DPs unique hard rocking sound. Interestingly, Hush actually has a beat which is much copied by rappers, I believe.
    A few years back, I got a CD ‘Ultra Lounge R’n’R Hits on The Rocks Volume 2” which has band call “The Royal Blue” doing an instrumental version of “Hush”. Its quite good and I thought it sounded a little similar to Billy Joe Royal’s vocal version – turns out “ The Royal Blue” was made up of his backing group called, “The Billy Joe Royal Orchestra”. Someone had a bit of fun coming with the name from Royal and Purple.
    For those wanting to get some perspective on Joe South’s immense talent, Hymie’s Vintage Record has reposted a tribute which I found the most informative where you can also listen to some tracks over his career which is not instantly accessible to many. They ran this 2 years ago – you can find it at the link below. Joe South also wrote a song also called “Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor”!!

    • simon robinson Says:

      I didn’t know about the Royal Blue cover of Hush and it does sound like they were having a bit of fun with Deep Purple’s name there!

  2. jimmy Says:

    Did any of the members meet Joe South during his lifetime?

  3. Ian Douglas Says:

    I salute the song Hush and I do think it was Deep Purple’s best single (love Mk 1). Rod Evans, Jon Lord – gosh they all sounded great(est) on this. I fully recommend the CDs: Joe South Anthology (quality pop tunes with a country feel, dated but comfortable), and the Raven re-issue of Kris Ife (far more interesting and a great version of Hush too). Curiously I felt Joe’s version was the (least) worthy – but he had other hits that were much better. Not diminishing Purple’s version as it was totally different really anyway.

    • simon robinson Says:

      There is a better Kris Ife collection on the RPM label in the UK, it’s available through the DTBOnline Store as well!

  4. frodster Says:

    ‘The Games People Play’ was probably his calling card. What other hits did Joe have? Over to you purple-heads

    • simon robinson Says:

      Reading the many obituaries this is the one they all cite, but it was fascinating to learn he’d played with Dylan and how many other tracks we’d regard as standards he’d penned.

  5. Ian Douglas Says:

    Yes it was BILLY JOE ROYAL according to Wikipedia – but that may be the Julian Assange conspiracy update…!

    • simon robinson Says:

      Yes, I think it was written for Billy Joe, and DP certainly heard his version, but Simper and Blackmore say it was the Kris Ife version they particularly liked and copied.

  6. George Martin Says:

    A big part of Purple’s history has past. If not for the recording of this song, who knows if Purple would have stayed together long enough to make In Rock and be on their way. Thanks for the great song Joe! Rest in peace.

    • simon robinson Says:

      I think this is one of the big ‘ifs’ in the story. It was Hush which showed the managers the project they had invested in could work, so when the US angle fell apart they still felt it was worth supporting the band. If Hush had not done the trick it’s hard to imagine they would have been so keen.

  7. Michiel Says:

    So both the man who wrote it and the one who turned it into a masterpiece died this Summer. Should be reason enough to re-release ‘Hush’ and put it back into the charts.
    Er… charts… Do they still exist?

    • simon robinson Says:

      No idea Michiel. Once Top Of The Pops went from TV that was it for my chart watching days. But we could start one of them twittery facespace social network type campaigns to hype it into the download charts I suppose. For Christmas maybe?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: