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: Lowe gets on with tour – Nick Lowe made reference to the downer that's been a most unfortunate part of his Quality Holiday Revenue, not exactly the time of year when music, particularly of the holiday variety, should be sad. But veteran British keyboardist Ian McLagan, who was slated to open the tour, died of a stroke as the tour was opening two weeks ago.... »»»
Concert Review: Romano makes sad songs sound good – Daniel Romano perhaps couldn't help himself in commanding the stage. After all, he was only up on the small stage accompanied by his backing band, The Trilliums, consisting of a fellow acoustic guitarist and a pedal steel player. So, you knew this was not going to be an ear splitting gig unless the band was pounding it - and they did not.... »»»
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

Fullbright writes the "Songs" John Fullbright didn' grow up around musicians or like-minded songwriters in his little hometown of Bearden, Okla. You'd never know it, though, from his raw, stark, pure and honest songwriting that's drawn comparisons to Townes Van Zandt. His debut album, "From the Ground Up," was nominated for a 2013 Grammy as the Best Americana Album, catapulting him into the company of Bonnie Raitt, Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers and The Avett Brothers.... »»»
Book dishes on guys writing the songs Jake Brown can't stop writing about music. Over the past 10 years, he's published 35 books, ranging from "Rick Rubin: In the Studio" and "Suge Knight: The Rise, Fall and Rise of Death Row Records" to "Heart: In the Studio." In 2012, he won the Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards in the category of Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research.... »»»
Finally, Skaggs and White duet Perhaps there are few more beloved names in the world of country and bluegrass music than Ricky Skaggs and his wife Sharon of the country music family act The Whites. The two have been close friends since their teenage years through music, first meeting at a festival where White was performing with her father Buck White and sister Cheryl, and Skaggs was playing with Keith Whitley.... »»»
Douglas dreams on Taking a second look at the two-album deal he had recently signed with the Rounder/Concord group, and then at his busy upcoming touring schedule, Jerry Douglas suddenly realized he didn't have a lot of time to waste. The first album, "Three Bells," a collaboration with fellow resophonic guitar (aka "Dobro") titans Rob Ickes of Blue Highway and the late Mike Auldridge was pretty much ready to go, the sessions having been completed shortly before Auldridge's passing in December 2012 following a lengthy struggle with cancer.... »»»
The Music Of Nashville: Original Soundtrack Season 3 Volume 1 CD review - The Music Of Nashville: Original Soundtrack Season 3 Volume 1
As the winter finale of ABC's "Nashville" draws closer, the plot lines grow thinner and this scant 10-song soundtrack follows suit. Domestic turmoil is the major theme this season as diva Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) becomes unexpectedly pregnant before the filming of a Patsy Cline biopic. Unfortunately, Panettiere's excellent rendition of "Crazy" is omitted on the album. »»»
December Day (Willie's Stash Vol. 1) CD review - December Day (Willie's Stash Vol. 1)
A multi-tasker by nature - at age 81, Willie Nelson's constant output and frequent touring schedule puts any number of younger performers to shame - "December Day" offers another example of his ability to reinvent himself while shifting into the same melodic mode that made his original standards set "Stardust" so tempting and timeless. »»»
Chasing the Sun CD review - Chasing the Sun
You have to hand it to The Sweet Lowdown. They certainly know a thing or two about truth in advertising. On their lovely new album - their third to date - this Canadian trio live up to their collective handle by presenting a set of songs that's so sweet, so lovely and so enticing, it's akin to love at first listen. Making do with little more than their collective harmonies... »»»
While No One Was Watching: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records CD review - While No One Was Watching: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records
It's a magnanimous record company indeed that celebrates its own 20th anniversary by inviting artists from other labels to join in the festivities. Then again, this is Chicago's Bloodshot Records after all, the insurgent outfit out of Chicago that's made its mark by booting tradition up the backside. Consequently, the 2-disc, 38-song set "While No One Was Watching: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records" puts a new spin on the usual catalogue compilation... »»»
Man Against Machine CD review - Man Against Machine
After releasing his debut album in 1989, Garth Brooks released music almost every year until he announced his retirement in 2000. Since then, he has released repackaged hit collections, new music on "Scarecrow" and "The Lost Sessions" and last year's cover song collection "Blame it All on My Roots." Over the years, there have been live recordings, concert and music video collections. The country songwriter became a pop culture icon... »»»
Maddie & Tae CD review - Maddie & Tae
Most casual listeners will be wondering if singing duo Maddie & Tae have another attention-getter in them like "Girl In A Country Song" when it comes to the act's debut EP. Although there's nothing that rivals the bro-country answer song of "Girl," the other three tracks on this initial release show great promise. »»»