News / Arts & Entertainment

Music Fans Mourn Country Legend George Jones

FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2007 file photo, George Jones is shown in Nashville, Tennessee.
FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2007 file photo, George Jones is shown in Nashville, Tennessee.
Mary Morningstar
Music fans are mourning the loss of a true Country legend. George Jones, 81, died Friday at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

In 1955, Jones recorded “Why Baby Why,” his first hit for Starday Records.  Born in Saratoga, Texas, he began performing in local clubs at age 10.  In the late 1940s, he worked as a disc jockey at various radio stations in his home state, before entering the U.S. Marine Corps in 1950.  Three years later, Jones completed his military service and returned to the Texas nightclub circuit.  He was discovered by Starday’s founder, “Pappy” Dailey, who convinced Jones to record for his label. 

Jones says his first studio session proved a great learning experience.

“The first time I went in to do my first recording session, for about two hours I sang like Roy Acuff, Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams," he said. "Finally, the producer came in the studio -- after he figured I’d had enough fun -- and he wanted to know if I could sing like George Jones.  So I said, ‘Oh, I didn't know that.  I thought I was supposed to sing like those people.’  They were selling records.  I didn’t know the difference, you know.”

Remembering Country Legend George Jones
Remembering Country Legend George Jonesi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

After leaving Starday Records in 1957, Jones worked with several other labels.  In 1969, he joined Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, and the same year, married singer Tammy Wynette.  Their union lasted only six years, but during that time, they collaborated on numerous duets, including the Number One hits “We’re Gonna Hold On,” “Near You” and “Golden Ring.”

FILE - In this undated photo, Country singer George Jones is shown performing with his guitar.FILE - In this undated photo, Country singer George Jones is shown performing with his guitar.
x
FILE - In this undated photo, Country singer George Jones is shown performing with his guitar.
FILE - In this undated photo, Country singer George Jones is shown performing with his guitar.
Through much of his life, George Jones battled an addiction to alcohol that nearly ruined his professional career.  He earned the nickname “No Show Jones” for missing numerous concert dates.  At one point, lawsuits against him by show promoters seeking compensation forced Jones to declare bankruptcy.  He credited his fourth wife Nancy, whom he married in 1983, for helping him overcome his dependency to alcohol and giving his life new meaning.

Countless singers, including Garth Brooks, George Strait, Alan Jackson and Randy Travis name George Jones as a major influence. 

Bill Ivey, former director of the Country Music Foundation, once described the role Jones played in Country music.  
    
“He has a unique vocal style that really is so special that it hasn’t been much imitated," he said. "I think people in contemporary Country music, who look back on George’s early work for inspiration, don’t try to sound like him.  They, I think, try to write like him and try to get that spirit into their interpretation.  What George Jones has is a constant presence of the real energy of Country music and I think it’s something that’s much admired.”

At age 62, Jones was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  The surprise announcement was made during the 1992 Country Music Association Awards telecast.  The overwhelmed performer described his feelings in this acceptance speech.

“You know, I’ve won a lot of awards - I’m not bragging - a lot of awards over the period of years and each and every one of them was fantastic," he said. "They made you feel great. They kept you going and made you try harder and work harder, but this has got to be the greatest one in the world.  Country music has been awful good to me throughout a whole bunch of years, and I’ll tell you what, I’d like to just thank all the fans in the whole, wide world.”

New pop-oriented trends have broadened Country music's boundaries in recent years, but never lessened the popularity of George Jones’ traditional sound.  Several of his peers, including Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Clint Black, Travis Tritt and Pam Tillis, fulfilled a life-long dream, when they collaborated with Jones on the Grammy Award-winning single, “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair.”

On many occasions, George Jones said that he played, sang and wrote Country songs out of his deep love for the music.  Equally gratifying was his relationship with his fans. 

Jones once revealed, “It’s not really that important to me, as far as glory, popularity and those things.  I just feel like I’m making people happy.  And they sure make me happy when I walk out on that stage.  That’s all that’s really important to me.”

Country singer George Jones, (R) pictured with Tammy Wynette at the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Oct. 4, 1995.Country singer George Jones, (R) pictured with Tammy Wynette at the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Oct. 4, 1995.
x
Country singer George Jones, (R) pictured with Tammy Wynette at the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Oct. 4, 1995.
Country singer George Jones, (R) pictured with Tammy Wynette at the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Oct. 4, 1995.
In the early 1990s, Country music fans and musicians named Jones’ recording of “He Stopped Loving Her Today” as the greatest song of all time.  The single topped the chart in 1980 and earned Jones a Grammy and two Country Music Association awards.  His other industry honors included induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992.  Three years later, he teamed with his former wife Tammy Wynette to record the chart-topping album, “One.” 

Jones autobiography, “I Lived To Tell It All,” was published in 1996, and an album of the same name followed.  MCA Records dropped him from its roster in 1998 and he later formed his own label, Bandit Records.
 
In 1999, George Jones suffered life-threatening injuries when he lost control of his car and slammed into a bridge near his home.  After making a full recovery, he returned to recording and touring.  His last solo album, “Hits I Missed and One I Didn’t,” contains songs made famous by other artists, plus a newly recorded version of his signature tune, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”  

Jones’ many accolades included a 2008 Kennedy Center Honor and a 2012 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  

In late 2012, he kicked off his farewell tour, scheduled to conclude on November 22 in Nashville.  Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers and many other Country stars were set to perform at the show.

During the past year, Jones had been hospitalized several times, most recently on April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Shelley Victor from: Savannah, Ga.
April 26, 2013 6:51 PM
My Mother LOVED George. She broke her arm getting on someone's shoulder just to see him at one of his concerts. He sang so Great. I Always get chills when I hear "He Stopped Lovin' Her today!!!!
He WILL be Sadly Missed.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."