Published: Sep 05, 2012 7:53 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 06, 2012 6:31 AM EDT

ATLANTA (AP) - Singer-songwriter Joe South, who penned hits like "Games People Play," and "Down in the Boondocks" in the 1960s and '70s, died Wednesday, his music publisher said. South was 72.

South, whose real name was Joseph Souter, died at his home in Buford, Ga., northeast of Atlanta, according to Butch Lowery, president of the Lowery Group. The company published South's music. Lowery said South died of heart failure, but did not know any other details.

"He's one of the greatest songwriters of all time," Lowery said. "His songs have touched so many lives. He's such a wonderful guy and loved by many."

South was an inductee in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

South's song "Down in the Boondocks" was a 1965 hit for singer Billy Joe Royal. South worked as a session guitar player on recordings by Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools," Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" and on albums by Eddy Arnold and Marty Robbins.

South also had a solo singing career producing hits such the 1968 song, "Games People Play," which won him two Grammys for Best Contemporary Song and Song of the Year. The song, which was released on South's debut album "Introspect," spoke against hate, hypocrisy and inhumanity.

"Don't It Make You Want to Go Home" was another hit for South. He also wrote the Grammy-nominated "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden" for Lynn Anderson.

But his music career was struck by tragedy when his brother, Tommy Souter, committed suicide in 1971. South's last album was "Classic Masters" in 2002.

According to South's website, he was born in Atlanta on Feb. 28, 1940. As a child he was interested in technology and developed his own radio station with a 1-mile transmission area.

In 1958, South recorded his debut single, a novelty song called, "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor."