George Jones (1931-2013)
Heralded by many as the greatest Country singer of all time, George Jones passed away on Friday morning, April 26, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. He had been hospitalized on April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure.
Jones was in the midst of “The Grand Tour,” billed as his farewell to the concert stage and a final triumph in his unparalleled career. Born in a log cabin in Saratoga, Texas, he began performing as a teenager on the streets of Beaumont. His recording career began in January 1954, when he cut “No Money in This Deal” for the regional label Starday. His first Top 5 hit, “Why, Baby, Why,” followed in 1955, prompting Jones to move to Nashville and sign with Mercury Records.
“Country Music would not be what it is without the immeasurable contributions made by George Jones,” said Steve Moore, CMA CEO. “I fondly remember promoting shows with George over the years and what a pleasure he was to work with!
“His fans and his peers will never forget his many classic performances, both as a solo artist and with his former spouse and musical partner, Tammy Wynette. His induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992 was richly deserved, and he will remain there forever as a symbol of what true greatness means in our genre. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Nancy, George’s family, and the countless fans he touched through the power of his voice and the generosity of his heart.”
Throughout the 1960s, Jones transitioned from his early honky-tonk sound to a deeper, more probing approach. Following his first No. 1 hit in 1959, “White Lightning,” he recorded hundreds of songs, many of them remembered today as classics of the genre, including “She Thinks I Still Care,” “Tender Years,” “The Race Is On,” “A Good Year for the Roses” and “Walk through This World with Me.”
In 1969, his third marriage, to singer Tammy Wynette, opened another chapter in Jones’ life and Country Music history. Together they redefined the art of Country duets with “The Ceremony,” “Golden Ring,” “Near You” and other unforgettable performances, many of them recorded after they had separated in 1974.
More milestones followed in decades to come, including “The Grand Tour” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Jones continued to record duets as well, with partners as varied as Merle Haggard, Brenda Lee and James Taylor. Even as his commercial successes waned going into the 1990s, he toured frequently – and just as frequently cancelled engagements, earning the nickname “No-Show Jones” – and recorded prolifically.
By that time, Jones had achieved iconic status within and beyond Country Music. His name turned up in countless Country songs as a synonym for excellence, from Alan Jackson’s “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” to Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem.” A seven-time CMA Award winner, Jones was honored by a long list of artists; even Frank Sinatra referred to him, tongue in cheek, as “the second greatest singer in America.” Garth Brooks took it further than that, hailing Jones as “the greatest voice ever to sing Country Music.”
That voice lives on and will remain vital to Country Music for generations to come.
Below, see photos of Jones and Twitter reactions from Country stars. Also below, George Strait sat down with Country Aircheck‘s Lon Helton to discuss the passing of George Jones. You can hear their conversation below. “It’s a sad day for us in Country music and the music business in general. We lost one of the greatest singers to ever live and we’re gonna miss him,” said George Strait. “He was a huge influence on me and my career.”[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/90197190" params="" width=" 50%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
I’ve heard, grief is the price we pay for love. We are paying that price again today, losing one of the greatest ever. George Jones.
Here is a roundup of tweets from the Country Music community honoring Jones:
— Clint Black (@Clint_Black) April 26, 2013
Thank you, George Jones, for…well…everything.
— Shane McAnally (@shanemcanally) April 26, 2013
George Jones–what a character, what an original, what a classic!Rest in Peace, George. Prayers for his family.
— Sawyer Brown (@SawyerBrownLive) April 26, 2013
Rest In Peace George Jones!!! -KU smarturl.it/UrbanChat51
— Keith Urban (@KeithUrban) April 26, 2013
The world has lost an iconic Country Legend and Heaven has gained a truly angelic voice!RIP George Jones fb.me/1bmMeyNaQ
— Jamie O’Neal (@JamieONeal) April 26, 2013
— The Boot (@thebootdotcom) April 26, 2013
My friend,the greatest singer of all time,has passed.To those who knew him,our lives were full. To those of you who don’t: discover him now.
— Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) April 26, 2013
— Mark Chesnutt (@MarkChesnutt) April 26, 2013
My first George Jones cassette was “I Am What I Am”. Check out “If Drinkin Don’t Kill Me” and “I’ve Aged Twenty Years In Five” on there
— Rhett Akins (@RhettAkins) April 26, 2013
— Lee Brice (@leebrice) April 26, 2013
Just landed in LA. Listened to “The King Is Gone” and “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” over and over again just like always. Can’t accept it.
— Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) April 26, 2013
My prayers go out to Nancy Jones today. Her partner and husband George Jones passed this morning.We’ll miss George… say.ly/IkW5Gxq
— Reba McEntire (@reba) April 26, 2013
George Jones has passed. Damn.Thought he’d live forever. Let’s break out his catalogue and play it all day Godspeed possum and family. – T
— Toby Keith (@TobyKeithMusic) April 26, 2013
RIP, George Jones. There will never be another! He was a good man. Here’s his version of Beer, Bait and Ammo. snd.sc/11ZS8wh
— Kevin Fowler (@KevinFowler) April 26, 2013
George was an all time great in country music and it won’t be the same without him.
— ALABAMA (@TheAlabamaBand) April 26, 2013
Gone …… George Jones …..man he was country music
— Tim McGraw (@TheTimMcGraw) April 26, 2013