Sign up for newsletter
 

George Jones dies at 81

Friday, April 26, 2013 – George Glenn Jones, considered by many to be the greatest country singer ever, died today at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. He was hospitalized April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure.

The man with the golden baritone and colorful life was the singer behind such hits as She Thinks I Still Care, The Grand Tour, Walk Through This World With Me, Tender Years and He Stopped Loving Her Today, the latter of which is often at the top of industry lists of the greatest country music singles of all time.

"A singer who can soar from a deep growl to dizzying heights, he is the undisputed successor of earlier natural geniuses such as Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell," wrote Bob Allen in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's "Encyclopedia of Country Music."

Jones, known as "The Possum," was born in Saratoga, Texas on Sept. 12, 1931. He played on the streets of Beaumont for tips as a teenager. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps before returning to Texas and recording for the Starday label in Houston. In 1955, his Why Baby Why became his first Top 10 country single, peaking at number 4. That was the first of more than 160 charting singles, more than any other artist in any format in the history of popular music.

Jones' first number 1 hit came in 1959 with White Lightning, a Mercury Records single that topped Billboard country charts for 5 weeks. He moved on to United Artists and then to Musicor, notching hits including She Thinks I Still Care, The Race Is On, A Good Year for the Roses and Walk Through This World With Me.

Jones signed with Epic Records in 1971 and worked with producer Billy Sherrill to craft a sound at once elegant and rooted, scoring with The Grand Tour and Bartenders Blues. Sherrill also produced duets between Jones and his then-wife Tammy Wynette, and in the 1970s they scored top-charting hits including "We're Gonna Hold On, Golden Ring and Near You.

By the time Golden Ring and Near You hit in 1976, Jones and Wynette were divorced, and Jones was battling personal problems. He was considered unreliable in showing up for concerts, earning the moniker "No Show" Jones, something he would later joke about when he pulled his life back together.

His solo career cooled until 1980, when he recorded He Stopped Loving Her Today, a ballad penned by Curly Putman and Bobby Braddock that helped Jones win Country Music Association prizes for best male vocal and top single. The song revived a flagging career, and Jones won the CMA's top male vocalist award in 1980 and 1981. He also earned a Grammy for best male country vocal performance.

In 1983, Jones married the former Nancy Ford Sepulvado. The union, he repeatedly said, began his rehabilitation from drugs and alcohol and prolonged his life. He signed with MCA Records in 1990 and began a successful run, and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. His guest vocal on Patty Loveless' You Don't Seem To Miss Me won a CMA award for top vocal event in 1998, and it became his final Top 20 country hit.

In 1999, Jones nearly died in a car wreck, but he recovered and resumed touring and recording. He continued touring and collected the nation's highest arts award, the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement, in 2008.

In late 2012, Jones announced his farewell tour, which was to conclude with a sold-out, star-packed show at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 22. Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels, Kenny Rogers, Sam Moore, The Oak Ridge Boys and many others were set to perform at Jones' Bridgestone show.

Jones is survived by his loving wife of 30 years Nancy Jones, his sister Helen Scroggins, and by his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

More news for George Jones

CD reviews for George Jones

The Hits CD review - The Hits
George Jones tends to rely on his past these days, so it's not surprising that "The Hits" is his new CD. The 24-song set does include a few previously unreleased songs, but that may not be enough to persuade all but the diehards to buy this. Jones recorded Eddy Raven's I Should Have Called and Al Anderson-Steven Bruton's I Ain't Ever Slowing Down about five years ago with Keith Stegall producing, and both appear here for the first time. The former is a bit poppy, »»»
Step Right Up 1970-1979: A Critical Anthology CD review - Step Right Up 1970-1979: A Critical Anthology
As retrospectives go, this new 28-track collection of George Jones' work from the 1970s is a bit of an anomaly. While most other compilations present chart-topping singles in chronological order, this single-disc set from the Australian reissue specialists at Raven Records provides an overview of Jones' total artistic output for the entire decade, regardless of chart position. This approach works well in this case because it covers songs not usually included on George Jones compilations. »»»
George Jones: Burn Your Playhouse Down, the unreleased duets CD review - George Jones: Burn Your Playhouse Down, the unreleased duets
There are few revelations in this George Jones duets collection culled primarily from "The Bradley Barn Sessions" (1993 recordings). Producers have their reasons. Perhaps the biggest surprise is when Jones is outsung by one of his duet partners, Georgette Jones, the only child of his marriage to Tammy Wynette. Georgette may have the best singing genes in history, but it is time as much as anything that pushes Dad into a subordinate role on You and Me and Time. The revelation, then, is a »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Trampled by Turtles leads stellar night – The animals ruled, for the most part, led by Trampled by Turtles, in a superb trifecta of music long on musicianship and quality songs. Trampled by Turtles, who headlined the sterling bill that also included Elephant Revival and Hurray for the Riff Raff (not animalistic unless the "riff raff" act that way), are going through some major sonic changes.... »»»
Concert Review: Goodnight, Texas gets on the map – Goodnight, Texas is a town with a small population - 28 according to the band's web site. So, if anything is going to put the unincorporated dot on the map, it may be the bi-coastal country band that stole the name. Avi Vinocur, who dwells in San Francisco, and Patrick Dyer Wolf, of North Carolina, are the mainstays of the band with them... »»»
Subscribe to Country News Digest Country News Digest      Follow Country Standard Time on twitter CST      Visit Country Standard Time on Facebook CST

Elsewhere in the news

Currently at the CST blogs

Trampled by Turtles get wild Trampled By Turtles is an indie folk group, an alt.-country band or a bluegrass act - depending on how you choose to look at them. Perhaps it's best to view the outfit as the ultimate combo platter consisting of just about everything that's good about American music. They play wonderfully, yet they also write intelligent songs that draw everyone from Townes Van Zandt to Nirvana to Ralph Stanley. It's all good, and some (or all) of these influences can be spotted in most of Trampled By Turtles' enjoyable sounds.... »»»
Don't try labeling Parker Millsap If you move in alt.-country/Americana circles, you simply cannot get away from the name Parker Millsap. He's certainly one of the biggest buzz artists of 2014. Better still, his self-titled album lives up to all the hype. He's a smart songwriter and a passionate singer and is essential listening for anybody looking for high quality contemporary music. Millsap also creates music appealing to a wide variety of musical tastes. You can make a case that he's a country guy, but you can also hear a lot of blues and folk. And if you attempt to put a label on him, he'll quickly tear it right off.... »»»
Simpson gets metamodern What a difference a year can make. Last year, Sturgill Simpson was overly anxious about the arrival of his debut album, "High Top Mountain." This year, Simpson is simultaneously anticipating the birth of his debut child and his just-released sophomore album, "Metamodern Sounds in Country Music," and his mood couldn't be more relaxed and joyous.... »»»
Mary Sarah builds "Bridges" What is not expected is for a virtually unknown artist, turning 19 on the day before her album release and finishing high school during the recording of the album, to be the featured artist, with Dolly Parton, Vince Gill and the late Ray Price lending not only their vocals, but also their most-beloved standards in country music. Texas-turned-Tennessee songbird Mary Sarah Gross - Mary Sarah is her stage name - saw that dream realized on her sophomore album "Bridges."... »»»
Three Bells CD review - Three Bells
It must be frustrating to resophonic artists of the stature of these three that even they still have to on occasion answer the question "What is that thing you're playing?" The number of well-known Dobro players has always seemed to lag behind even the banjo, and even in the "Golden Years" of '50s and '60s country music, the only widely known names were Josh Graves and Pete "Brother Oswald" Kirby. »»»
The Earls of Leicester CD review - The Earls of Leicester
In 1946, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs were integral parts of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys when they recorded a series of singles that most historians of the music consider the "birth of bluegrass" as we know it. Upon leaving to form their own band, The Foggy Mountain Boys (much to Monroe's consternation), they spent most of the 1950s recording one landmark single after another. »»»
The Cowboy Rides Away: Live From AT&T Stadium CD review - The Cowboy Rides Away: Live From AT&T Stadium
George Strait has been one of the most dependable country music stars for three decades. In this day and age, the Texan is a certifiable throwback. He's low key, not a self-promoter. All's he has done is churn out hit after hit for decade after decade. He has not been the kind of artist who put his finger up in the air either or trading his cowboy hat for a baseball cap. When looking up the definition of traditional country, George Strait sits at the top. »»»
Where It's At CD review - Where It's At
Dustin Lynch is a throwback on his sophomore release thanks to the good-looking Tennessee native sporting a straw cowboy hat, Now that's something you don't see these days unless you happen to be King George Strait. Instead, the hat acts of yesteryear - the moniker, in reality, was a dig at those who were part of the same milk toast country sounds that were being put out in the '90s - traded them in for baseball caps. »»»
I Don't Dance CD review - I Don't Dance
The cover of "I Don't Dance" features a glam shot of Lee Brice standing in a spotlight, looking more like a pop artist than a country singer. Listeners who prefer their country on the gritty side might be scared off by the pretty cover shot. The music matches the image: pop influenced mainstream country music, in the vein of contemporaries Jake Owen and Kip Moore.  »»»
Angels Among Us Hymns & Gospel Favorites CD review - Angels Among Us Hymns & Gospel Favorites
The threads of faith and family are intrinsically woven throughout the fibers of country music, but the results of such albums are not always successful, with some records feeling dry and inspired while others take the bull by the horns and really engage the material. Alabama's latest offering, "Angels Among Us: Hymns & Gospel Favorites," falls into the latter category. »»»