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 Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings: Nnekai
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
August 26, 2015 2:42 PM
Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.

Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.