Country Music Hall of Famer, Grand Ole Opry member, and Kennedy
Center Honoree George Glenn Jones died Friday, April 26, 2013 at
Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He was hospitalized
April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure.
Born September 12, 1931, Jones is regarded among the most important and influential
singers in American popular music history. He was the singer of enduring country
music hits including “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 was born in Saratoga, Texas, and 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, Texas. In 1955, his “Why Baby Why”
became his first Top 10 country single, peaking at number four and beginning a remarkable
commercial string: Jones would ultimately record more than 160 charting singles, more
than any other artist in any format in the history of popular music.
Jones’ first number one hit came in 1959 with “White Lightning,” a Mercury Records
single that topped Billboard country charts for five 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,” “Bartenders Blues”
and many more. 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 demons. 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. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” 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 remained a force in music until his death, playing hundreds of shows
in the new century and collecting 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
November 22, 2013. 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.
REACTIONS TO GEORGE JONES’ PASSING
FROM THE COUNTRY MUSIC COMMUNITY AND BEYOND
"My heart is absolutely broken. George Jones was my all time favorite singer and one of my favorite people in the world. My heart goes out to Nancy and all his family and friends."
— Dolly Parton
"The world has lost the greatest country singer of all time. Amen."
— MERLE HAGGARD
“Today is a sad day in Country music. We have lost another piece of history. George Jones was not only a good singer, but was a good friend. He will be missed by many.”
— Hank Williams Jr.
“I am very thankful I got to know George, he’s one of the greatest singers that ever lived. I actually loved the man and really enjoyed the time I got to spend with he and Nancy.”
— Randy Travis
“George Jones will always be one of the most amazing singers who ever lived. He was a true Country Music legend who made music very personal to the listener – I think more than anyone else. He will be dearly missed, but always remembered.”
— Kenny Rogers
"Country music and the world will miss George Jones. He was someone who set a high standard in our industry for great music and lyrics that tapped into the emotions of the human heart at a very deep level. His music has touched the lives of country music lovers for over five decades. My prayers are with his family and I pray for the repose of his soul. May you rest in peace, brother.”
— Collin Raye
"There's a huge emptiness in the music world today from the passing of our good friend George Jones. But, the void is filled with the many memories that will be with us forever. We love you, George."
— The Oak Ridge Boys lead singer Duane Allen
"I believe if you ask any singer who was the greatest country music singer of all time, they would say 'George Jones'. He was without question and by far the BEST! I first met and worked with him when I was 13 years old; I am so very grateful that he was my friend."
— Barbara Mandrell
“SAD DAY FOLKS. TODAY, WITH THE PASSING OF MY GOOD FRIEND, GEORGE JONES, THE DOOR TO AN ERA IN TIME IS SLOWLY CLOSING. WITH ONLY A HANDFUL OF US LEFT STANDING, THE COUNTRY MUSIC I KNEW AND LOVED HAS ALSO PASSED AWAY. IT IS MY GREAT HOPE THAT THE YOUNGER GENERATION OF SINGERS WILL REMEMBER ALL OF US FROM THAT TIME AND CARRY ON. THANKS ALL.”
— RAY PRICE
"There aren't words in our language to describe the depth of his greatness. I'll miss my kind and generous friend."
— Vince Gill
"I am just devastated by the news that George Jones has passed away! The music world has lost one of the most original and innovative talents that the world has ever known. I feel such a personal loss of not only one of the greatest vocal influences of my life, but also I've lost a dear friend. Visits with George have always been full of joy and laughter. Every time I would see him, George would always greet me with a funny story or a joke! His legacy will put his name at the top of the most influential artists in history, right along with Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. His voice will be influencing singers 100 years from now and beyond! I'm reminded of the lyrics that Waylon wrote in the tune 'It's Alright.' 'If we all sang like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones!'"
— Travis Tritt
‘We are deeply saddened by the news this morning of the passing of our friend, George Jones. Our company was privileged to have represented George Jones in the 1980’s, most notably during the critically acclaimed ‘Reunion’ tour of George Jones and Tammy Wynette. We will miss this ICONIC songwriter and his unmistakable voice, but he will live on in our hearts.’
— Jim Halsey, Impresario
“I'm shocked and saddened at the passing of my friend and hero George Jones. I was honored to have toured and recorded with him. Our hearts go out to Nancy and the entire family. ‘Now I Wonder Who's Gonna Fill his Shoes?’”
— TG Sheppard
“I was saddened to learn of George's passing. Along with being one of the greatest singers of our time, he was a sweet man who was always kind to me. Please know that I am praying for you during this special time of loss. If there is anything at all that you need from me please let me know. Our prayers will continue for you throughout the days ahead.”
— Guy Penrod
“Today is a dark for country music and music in general. George had become a friend and mentor to us. We will always remember touring with him and how both he and Nancy were so welcoming to us. Rest in peace George... No one will ever fill your shoes!”
— The Roys
"Country music has lost one of the great ones today with the passing of George Jones. Rest in peace 'Possum', heaven has a new angel."
— Lisa Matassa
“George Jones was just as impressive as a person as he was as an entertainer. He was ‘the ordinary, down to earth guy that happens to live down the road’ and a super star entertainer of which there will never be an equal.” His passing is a sad day and a great loss for us all.”
— Michael Bonagura of Baillie & The Boys
“His voice will live on forever in my heart. There will never be another!”
—Kathie Baillie of Baillie & The Boys
“George was the greatest country singer of all time and was featured in my NANCY comic strip many times. I'll find the words....along with the pictures...to pay tribute to George in the comic strip soon, but today, I join all of Nashville and the Country Music world in sending prayers of comfort and love to Nancy and the Jones family.”
— Guy Gilchrist
“George Jones was one of the most endearing, warm and friendly people I have ever had the privilege to meet. I have been lucky enough to work with George and Nancy and I am so blessed to have been a small part of their lives for a short time. While I am deeply saddened, I know his legend will live on.”
— Janie Fricke
"I have no words to express my admiration and love for George Jones. To say he was my 'hero' does not do justice to the lifetime impression he made on me, both personally and professionally. George Jones is the foundation of country music and he's the reason I wanted to perform. He's the reason I'm still here in this business... out there on the road. He was my mentor and my teacher; George was my friend. He paved the way for so many and I was one of the lucky ones to have enjoyed the opportunity to not only sing beside him, but just 'sit and visit' with him. When I was just starting out, we toured together; he was the headliner. After a few shows, he told me that I was going to close the shows (because he wanted to watch "Andy Griffith"). For a newcomer, it was intimidating to open for him; there was even more pressure to close for him. George gave me strength and encouragement; he kept telling me 'you can do it, son.' George Jones is the Father of Country. We will all miss his voice, and I will miss his voice to call me 'son.'"
— Mark Chesnutt
“I'll never forget the incredible experience of singing with George and I will always remember his wonderful sense of humor and down to earth soul. Before I wrote the liner note for his Ladies Choice album, I said a prayer for the right words to a worthy quote that would come close to reflecting the way I feel about George. Here is that quote and it will always be true.
"We are all God's own individual works of art. In country music, George Jones is his masterpiece..."
— Deborah Allen
"Country music lost an icon today and I have lost a dear and beloved friend. With tear-filled eyes, I'm reminiscing this morning about all that I learned from and loved about George Jones. He was part of my 'country music education;' he made country music history and, in my opinion, George Jones is a song's best friend. No one will leave an imprint on my life like George did."
— Lorrie Morgan
"The first 8-tracks that I owned were recordings by Conway Twitty and George Jones. Long before my career got started, I was at a concert (Travis Tritt's homecoming show) and George Jones performed. I sat there and sang along to every word that George sang. A lady, who sat in front of me, turned around and said, 'do you know George Jones' music?' When my reply was, 'heck yeah,' she introduced herself; it was his wife, Nancy. Nancy brought me backstage that night to introduce me to George. That was three years before I signed my record deal and we've remained friends and stayed in touch since then. Right or wrong, in good times and in bad, people loved George Jones--he made an impression. His music is his legacy and he will not only be remembered as the best country singer this world will ever know, but a great man that we all will truly miss."
— Mark Wills
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