- 81 years old
- Date of birth: Sep 12, 1931
- Date of passing: Apr 26, 2013
|Let the memory of George be with us forever|
George Glenn Jones was an American country music singer known for his long list of hit records, his distinctive voice and phrasing, and his marriage to Tammy Wynette.
For the last 20 years of his life, Jones was frequently referred to as the greatest living country singer. Country music scholar Bill C. Malone writes, "For the two or three minutes consumed by a song, Jones immerses himself so completely in its lyrics, and in the mood it conveys, that the listener can scarcely avoid becoming similarly involved." Waylon Jennings expressed a common jealousy in his song "It's Alright": "If we all could sound like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones."
Throughout his long career, Jones made headlines often as much for his drinking, stormy relationships with women, and violent rages as for his prolific career of making records and touring. His wild lifestyle led to Jones missing many performances, earning him the nickname "No Show Jones."
With the help of his fourth wife, Nancy, he was mostly sober from the mid 1980s until his death in 2013. Jones had more than 150 hits during his career, both as a solo artist and in duets with other artists. The shape of his nose and facial features gave Jones the nickname "The Possum". Jones said in an interview that he chose to tour only about 60 dates a year.
George Glenn Jones was born on September 12, 1931 in Saratoga, Texas, and was raised in Vidor, Texas, with his brother and five sisters. When he was seven, his parents bought a radio and he heard country music for the first time. Given a guitar when he was nine, Jones was soon busking for money on the streets of Beaumont.
He left home at 16 and went to Jasper, Texas, where he sang and played on the radio station. He married his first wife Dorothy when he was 19, but they divorced within a year. The Korean War was underway, and he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He was stationed in California for his entire service. Not long after his discharge, his music career took off.
Jones's identity was closely tied to his alcoholism. One of the best known stories of Jones' drinking days happened when he was married to his second wife, Shirley Corley. Jones recalled Shirley making it physically impossible for him to travel to Beaumont, located 8 miles away, and buy liquor. Because Jones would not walk that far, she would hide the keys to each of their cars they owned before leaving. She did not, however, hide the keys to the lawn mower. Jones recollects being upset at not being able to find any keys before looking out the window and at a light that shone over their property. He then described his thoughts, saying: "There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine under a seat. A key glistening in the ignition. I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.
In her 1979 autobiography, former wife Tammy Wynette recalled waking at 1 AM to find her husband gone: "I got into the car and drove to the nearest bar 10 miles away. When I pulled into the parking lot there sat our rider-mower right by the entrance. He'd driven that mower right down a main highway. He looked up and saw me and said, ‘Well, fellas, here she is now. My little wife, I told you she'd come after me.’"
Jones later jokingly sang of the lawn mower incident in his 1996 single "Honky Tonk Song", and parodied his arrest in the music video.
In the 1970s, a manager introduced Jones to cocaine before a show, because he was too tired to perform. His self-destructive behavior brought him close to death and he was in an Alabamapsychiatric hospital by the end of the decade. Celebrated by some of his fans as the hard-drinkin', fast-livin' spiritual-son of his idol, Hank Williams, Jones missed so many engagements that he gained the nickname of "No-Show Jones" — the song "No-Show Jones" makes fun of Jones and other country singers. He was often penniless and admits that Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cashcame to his financial aid during this time.
Poking fun at his past, three country music videos would feature Jones arriving on a riding lawn mower. The first was Hank Williams, Jr.’s "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" in 1984 while the second was Vince Gill’s "One More Last Chance" in 1993. Gill's song mentioned the mower with the lines "She might have took my car keys, but she forgot about my old John Deere." At the end of Gill's video, he is leaving the golf course on a John Deere tractor and greets Jones with "Hey, possum." Jones, arriving at the golf course driving a John Deere riding lawn mower with a set of golf clubs mounted behind him, replies to Gill "Hey, sweet pea." The third is John Rich's "Country Done Come to Town" and shows George mowing grass on the rooftop on a zero turn mower.
Jones worked with many musicians who have found success in Nashville as session players and singers. These include Dan Schafer, Hank Singer, Johnny Paycheck, Brittany Allyn, Sonny Curtis, Ron Gaddis, Kent Goodson, Bobby Birkhead, and Steve Hinson.Jones was married twice before he was 24. While his 1950 marriage to Dorothy Bonvillion only lasted a year, the couple had a daughter, Susan. In 1954, Jones married Shirley Ann Corley. This marriage lasted until 1968 and produced two sons, Jeffrey and Bryan. He married Tammy Wynette in 1969. They stayed married for six years and had a daughter, Tamala Georgette. As Georgette Jones, she is a country singer and has performed on stage with her father. Jones married his final wife, Nancy Sepulvado, on March 4, 1983 in Woodville, Texas. Nancy, who went on to become his manager, is credited by Jones for rescuing him from drinking and cocaine. They had lived in Franklin, Tennessee
Jones continued to record and tour throughout the 1990s despite no longer being a presence on modern country radio. He was very vocal in his later years about his disappointment for the direction country music has taken in the last two decades. In his autobiography, Jones devoted a full chapter to the changes in the country music scene of the 1990's that saw him removed from radio playlists in favor of a younger generation of pop-influenced country stars. Despite his absence from the country charts during this time, latter-day country superstars such as Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, and many others often paid tribute to Jones while expressing their love and respect for his legacy as a true country legend who paved the way for their own success. A duet by Jones and Tracy Lawrence was released in September 2008. The song, "Battle Scars", was on a various artists CD named Never Forget. A duet album with Dolly Parton would be released as his final studio album.
On April 26, 2013, after being hospitalized for fever and irregular blood pressure, Jones died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He was 81 years old.Laura Bush, wife of former president George W. Bush, was among those eulogizing Jones at his funeral on May 2, 2013. Other speakers were Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, news personalityBob Schieffer, and country singers Barbara Mandrell and Kenny Chesney. Alan Jackson, Kid Rock, Ronnie Milsap, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Travis Tritt, The Oak Ridge Boys,Charlie Daniels,Randy Travis, Wynonna and Brad Paisley provided musical tributes The service was broadcast live on CMT, GAC, RFD-TV, The Nashville Network and Family Net as well as Nashville stations. SiriusXM and WSM 650AM, home of the Grand Ole Opry, broadcast the event on the radio.
Jones received many honors during his long career, from Most Promising New Country Vocalist in 1956, being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, and being named a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2008. In 2012, he was presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award. At the ceremony his longtime friend Merle Haggard paid tribute to him.
He served as judge in 2008 for the 8th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.
Jones was a member of the Grand Ole Opry from 1956 until his death.
"I have listened to you all my life, You were the greatest singer,of all time I know you are singing with the Angels now,and there is nothing greater rest in peace dear friend, until we meet again"
"george jones you were the greastest country singer everyone has known everyone's sad about your passing even your fans are paying tribute god bless you and we will miss you all peace"
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