Joe South and his grave site on Veterans Memorial Highway in Mableton

Singer Songwriter Joe South and his wife Jan Tant (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

[This is a lightly edited repeat of an article we published in 2018 and republished last fall. Since our web traffic has increased substantially over the past two years, I thought it would be good to introduce new readers to some of our evergreen past works]

Joe South was born Joseph Alfred Souter in 1940. He is arguably the most famous person buried in a cemetery in Mableton, at least among music fans of the baby boom generation.

He grew up in the Adamsville section of southwest Atlanta. When he was twelve years old he met Bill Lowery, who hosted a country music show on WGST, under the name Uncle Eb Brown.  Lowery encouraged the young Souter in his musical career.

Souter then changed his name to Joe South.  South performed on Lowery’s show.  He became part of a group of studio musicians assembled by Lowery that included other well-known musicians, Jerry Reed and Ray Stevens.

South attended Southern Technical College (which later became Southern Polytechnic University, and later still merged into Kennesaw State University) but dropped out to pursue a career in music. 

He had a hit novelty song in 1958, and at various times worked as a studio musician, sideman, and producer.  He accompanied dozens of musical legends, including Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Eddy Arnold,  Simon and Garfunkel, Wilson Pickett, and Marty Robbins.

But he is best known as a songwriter, writing hits recorded by himself and other singers, including “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,”  “Down in the Boondocks,” “Games People Play,” “Don’t it Make You Want to Go Home,” and “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.”

After the suicide of his brother and drummer Tommy in 1971, South struggled with depression and drug abuse.  He became reclusive through the 1980s and 1990s and died of heart failure in 2012 at 72 years of age.

To read more about South and his career, visit his page in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Mount Harmony Memorial Gardens

Joe South is buried in Mount Harmony Memorial Gardens on Veterans Memorial Highway in Mableton, Georgia, along with other members of his family.  The cemetery is adjacent to the older Mount Harmony Baptist Church cemetery.  The cemetery is on a hill overlooking the highway and provides an impressive view of the Atlanta skyline.

Here is a slideshow including the markers of Joe South, his family, and other residents of the cemetery.

Check out the slideshow of Mount Harmony Memorial Gardens below: