George Jones
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - George Jones, the peerless, hard-living country singer who recorded dozens of hits about good times and regrets and peaked with the heartbreaking classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today," has died. He was 81.

Jones died Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, according to his publicist Kirt Webster. He was hospitalized with fever and irregular blood pressure, forcing him to postpone two shows.

With one of the most golden voices of any genre, a clenched, precise, profoundly expressive baritone, Jones had No. 1 songs in five separate decades, 1950s to 1990s. He was idolized not just by fellow country artists, but by Frank Sinatra, Pete Townshend, Elvis Costello, James Taylor and countless others. "If we all could sound like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones," Waylon Jennings once sang.

In a career that lasted more than 50 years, "Possum" evolved from young honky-tonker to elder statesman a s he recorded more than 150 albums and became the champion and symbol of traditional country music, a well-lined link to his hero, Hank Williams. Jones survived long battles with alcoholism and drug addiction, brawls, accidents and close encounters with death, including bypass surgery and a tour bus crash that he only avoided by deciding at the last moment to take a plane.

His failure to appear for concerts left him with the nickname "No Show Jones," and he later recorded a song by that name and often opened his shows by singing it. His wild life was revealed in song and in his handsome, troubled face, with its dark, deep-set eyes and dimpled chin.

In song, he was rowdy and regretful, tender and tragic. His hits included the sentimental "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," the foot-tapping "The Race is On," the foot-stomping "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair," the melancholy "She Thinks I Still Care," the rockin' "White Lightning," and the barfly lament "Still Doing Tim e." Jones also recorded several duets with Tammy Wynette, his wife for six years, including "Golden Ring," ''Near You," ''Southern California" and "We're Gonna Hold On." He also sang with such peers as Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard and with Costello and other rock performers.

But his signature song was "He Stopped Loving Her Today," a weeper among weepers about a man who carries his love for a woman to his grave. The 1980 ballad, which Jones was sure would never be a hit, often appears on surveys as the most popular country song of all time.

Jones won Grammy awards in 1981 for "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and in 1999 for "Choices." He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992 and in 2008 was among the artists honored in Washington at the Kennedy Center.

Jones continued to make appearances and put out records, though his hit records declined.

"I don't want to completely quit because I don't know what to do with myself," he said in 2005. " I'll be out there as long as the people want me to be out there."

Jones was a purist who lamented the transformation of country music from the family feeling of the 1950s to the hit factory of the early 21st century. He was so caught up in country, old country, that when a record company executive suggested he record with James Taylor, Jones insisted he had never heard of the million selling singer-songwriter. He was equally unimpressed when told that Neil Young had come to visit backstage and declined to see him, saying he didn't know who he was. He did listen to the Rolling Stones, only because of the guitar playing of Keith Richards, a country fan who would eventually record with Jones.

Asked about what he thought about Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and other young stars, Jones said they were good but they weren't making traditional country music.

"What they need to do really, I think, is find their own title," he said.

In 1991, country star Alan J ackson dedicated his hit song "Don't Rock the Jukebox" to Jones, asking in the song that country music remain faithful to the Jones style instead of drifting toward rock 'n' roll.

Jones was born Sept. 12, 1931, in a log house near the east Texas town of Saratoga, the youngest of eight children. He sang in church and at age 11 began performing for tips on the streets of Beaumont, Texas. His first outing was such a success that listeners tossed him coins, placed a cup by his side and filled it with money. Jones estimated he made more than $24 for his two-hour performance, enough to feed his family for a week, but he used up the cash at a local arcade.

"That was my first time to earn money for singing and my first time to blow it afterward," he recalled in "I Lived to Tell it All," a painfully self-critical memoir published in 1996. "It started what almost became a lifetime trend."

The family lived in a government-subsidized housing project, and his father, a l aborer, was an alcoholic who would rouse the children from bed in the middle of the night to sing for him. His father also noted that young George liked music and bought him a Gene Autry guitar, with a horse and lariat on the front, that Jones practiced on obsessively.

He got his start on radio with husband and wife team Eddie & Pearl in the late 1940s. Hank Williams once dropped by the studio to promote a new record, and Jones was invited to back him on guitar. When it came time to play, he froze.

"Hank had 'Wedding Bells' out at the time," Jones recalled in a 2003 Associated Press interview. "He started singing it, and I never hit the first note the whole song. I just stared."

After the first of his four marriages failed, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1951 and served three years. He cut his first record when he got out, an original fittingly called "No Money in This Deal."

He had his first hit with "Why Baby Why" in 1955, and by the early '6 0s Jones was one of country music's top stars.

"I sing top songs that fit the hardworking, everyday loving person. That's what country music is about," Jones said in a 1991 AP interview. "My fans and real true country music fans know I'm not a phony. I just sing it the way it is and put feeling in it if I can and try to live the song."

Jones was married to Wynette, his third wife, from 1969 to 1975. (Wynette died in 1998.) Their relationship played out in Nashville like a country song, with hard drinking, fights and reconciliations. Jones' weary knowledge of domestic warfare was immortalized in such classics as "The Battle," set to the martial beat of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

After one argument, Jones drove off on a riding mower in search of a drink because Wynette had taken his car keys to keep him from carousing. Years earlier, married to his second wife, he had also sped off in a mower in search of a drink. Jones referred to his mowing days in t he 1996 release, "Honky Tonk Song."

His drug and alcohol abuse grew worse in the late '70s, and Jones had to file for bankruptcy in 1978. A manager had started him on cocaine, hoping to counteract his boozy, lethargic performances, and Jones was eventually arrested in Jackson, Miss., in 1983 on cocaine possession charges. He agreed to perform a benefit concert and was sentenced to six months probation.

"In the 1970s, I was drunk the majority of the time," Jones wrote in his memoir. "If you saw me sober, chances are you saw me asleep."

In 1980, a 3-minute song changed his life. His longtime producer, Billy Sherrill, recommended he record "He Stopped Loving Her Today," a ballad by Curly Putnam and Bobby Braddock. The song took more than a year to record, partly because Jones couldn't master the melody, which he confused with Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make it Through the Night," and partly because he was too drunk to recite a brief, spoken interlude ("She c ame to see him one last time/And we all wondered if she would/And it kept running through my mind/This time he's over her for good.")

"Pretty simple, eh?" Jones wrote in his memoir. "I couldn't get it. I had been able to sing while drunk all of my life. I'd fooled millions of people. But I could never speak without slurring when drunk. What we needed to complete that song was the narration, but Billy could never catch me sober enough to record four simple spoken lines."

Jones was convinced the song was too "morbid" to catch on. But "He Stopped Loving Her Today," featuring a string section that hummed, then soared, became an instant standard and virtually canonized him. His concert fee jumped from $2,500 a show to $25,000.

"There is a God," he recalled.

In 1983, Jones married his fourth and final wife, Nancy Sepulveda, whom he credited with stablizing his private life. He had four children, one with first wife Dorothy Bonvillion, two with second wife Sh irley Ann Corley and one with Wynette. His daughter with Wynette, Georgette Jones, became a country singer and even played her mother in the 2008 TV series "Sordid Lives."

___

CHRIS TALBOTT, AP Music Writer

AP National Writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report.


Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Published by The Reno Gazette Journal and Lyon County News Leader on Apr. 26, 2013.
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12082 Entries
George jones i love you so much. Im 17 years old and I love your music. I love you like you was my own dad. I want to thank nancy jones for taking good care of you while she can before you passed away. Im so thankful that God but you down here to save him from the lord. And I can't wait it meet him one day in heaven. Love you nancy jones ❤ and george jones ❤.. if your seeing this fell free to call me 704 787 6199
Jalen Mcintyre
November 1, 2020
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Renee Justice
Friend
July 27, 2020
RIP Mr. George Jones ✝
I really like/enjoy your song, he stopped loving her today. You are a giant in country music ! Me and family enjoyed you and your music on tv and thank you for your contribution to American country music and musical history. My condolences to the family and friends of Me, George Jones for your loss.
JD
Carlsbad, Texas USA
Joe DeHoyos
May 29, 2020
George, love you and your music since I was 8 years old. You will never be forgotten. You were my key into country music at a very young age.
Michael Stanhope
May 28, 2020
Thinking of you today. Nothing new, always listening to your music. Just stooped by to let you are never far from our thoughts.

Betty Evans
Acquaintance
May 15, 2020
Loved Your Music when i was a teen, 50 Years Later Love It Just as Much if not More. A Devoted Fan whom saw You in Greenville, and Spartanburg S.C... M.David Bruce
David Bruce
May 14, 2020
I watched you on RFD the other night. I still listen to your music everyday. I miss you. RIP Possum.
Betty Evans
Acquaintance
April 13, 2020
GOOD JOB GEORGE!
Tom Meyer
Acquaintance
April 10, 2020
My god I miss you George. I feel as though I knew you personally my whole life. You sang about me often and nobody ever touched my heart and my life like you did. You are the undisputed king of country and will always wear that crown. Nobody will ever come close even if this world were to last another 1000 years. I immerse myself in your music daily and will continue to do so the rest of my days.
Dan Dixon
Friend
April 8, 2020
He could make you smile, he could make you cry. But you always felt better afterwards. George go tell heaven a shouting. A Devoted Fan.
January 10, 2020
Its a New Year 2020.
I Still hear your songs and ,
voice on the Radio!

Youll forever be
remembered as The Possum.
Just a shout out to those who loves George Jones as I still love him and his, music , and it will last immensely .
Your a Legend us all.
We love you George.
God bless all the family!
April Rayne ❤
April Rayne
Friend
January 2, 2020
Just want to say my husband loved George Jones and his music.
Bascom Bellamy
November 1, 2019
It's been several years since you went to be with the Lord Uncle George. Hope you have found your brother Herman, my brother Herman, my Mom Helen and my dad Lamar. You were a great man here on Earth and you are indeed that same great man there in Heaven. Your music, your smile and your passion is greatly missed. Aunt Nancy was a perfect match for you, thank you Aunt Nancy! Although I do not have hardly anymore family left I do ask that if anyone reads this to please reach Me at 4095507210. George Jones, what an honor and now a legacy to smile upon and say that I'm proud of your success. Susan, Georgette, Bryan and Jeff if you ever read this, you all were blessed as a family. Would love to hear from anyone.......thank you! Until the concert happens for me in Heaven I will continue to play my drums and hope that one day I will see all of you in Heaven.
Bryant Jones
October 12, 2019
A legend and a hero. You will never be forgotten.
Steve Charleston
Friend
October 5, 2019
RIP george jones and a special Thank You for all the great songs you have left for us. I did not realize how much your music meant to me .when I heard the news about your all I did is cry for days.no had that much control over me like your music.Thank You you will be missed.
Russell Schroeder
Friend
August 30, 2019
Thanks for you for your wonderful music you were the best rest in peace

John New Zealand
July 30, 2019
I alway's told my friend's in school.That he was my uncle.And,they believed me.LOL!
June 12, 2019
Jim Grant Sr
May 3, 2019
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
John Wurz
Sister
April 21, 2019
He was a good singer & sang good songs.
Kimberly Wagner
Friend
November 29, 2018
Lindsay Matlock
Friend
August 27, 2018
Who's gonna fill your shoes. Rip George
Sandra Gibbs
August 22, 2018
George Jones greatest performer ever. I grew up listening to my dad sing his songs to us and talking about going to see him perform.
Darlene Abshire
July 4, 2018
fly high possm why we carry on ur music for eternity
amber larison
June 27, 2018
5 years ago today we said goodbye to the greatest Country Artist of all. But Heaven gained an Angel to sing for the Lord. I miss you and will always love you. My faith and your music keeps me going until that day I can join you and all our loved ones on those streets paved of gold.
Betty Evans
Acquaintance
April 26, 2018
So Sad To Lose A Great Singer Like George He Was One Of My Favorites He Will Be Sadly And Dearly Missed God Bless One Of The Greatest Songers Country Music Has Ever Had I Saw George Numerous Times And He Was Always On Key With His Singing God Bless The Possum And No Show Jones As He Was Called But No Show Always Showed To Perform Every Time I Went To See Him God Bless You George You Are Sadly Missed May You Rest On Peace.
Michael Harris
March 8, 2018
In the 1990's, GEORGE and his Band played at a Club a few miles from
Columbus, Georgia in a farming community called BUENA VISTA.

It was a packed house. My husband, Rufus Edward Gandy, played the guitar and sang George's songs. The Amazing thing was my husband could have cared less if anyone else had ever sung a country song. His dream was to see GEORGE JONES.

We ordered 4 tickets, and when the time came---we were like children in a Candy Shop! We drove 2 1/2 hours to get there!

We had an Unforgettable Night. It was FABULOUS!!!

Nancy, you are the BEST THING that ever happened to GEORGE. GOD put you two together, and it changed George's life forever. Thank You, NANCY.

NANCY, my husband passed away in April of 2015. I know he is in Heaven singing with GEORGE in the Heavenly Choir.

GEORGE was a GREAT Testimony to the Love and Grace of GOD. The old fleshly George was Transformed into a Beautiful Child of GOD.

NANCY, you and I know that "THAT GREAT FAMILY REUNION IN HEAVEN AWAITS THE CHILD OF GOD." We will be reunited with our BELOVEDS. Hallelujah!

Most sincerely,

Marsha Carol Watson Gandy
Marsha Carol Watson Gandy
February 14, 2018
Vince said it best . They dont make them shoes anymore .Miss u George
RANDY JONES
February 1, 2018
Sorry For Your Loss!
Thomas & Libby Widgeon
January 31, 2018
Mr. George Jones, you will be forever missed. Country just aint country, without you. Your voice hit the very heart of country music
vicki Fankell
January 5, 2018
George
George was the king of country music have beem a fan since 1955 miss you george
anna kreie
January 4, 2018
George Jones I've always liked all of your music especially choices I used to take my mom to your concerts and she also loved the song choices I would take her to the Ohio State Fair to watch you in concert you and Conway Twitty was her favorite singers she also passed away back in 2009 so I know you guys are all celebrating together up in Heaven you will always be missed
Claire DeLeon
January 3, 2018
TO THE FAMILY,we visit the woodlawn cemetery as we ware on holliday to bring respect to one of the best country singers all the world around you will always being played at friday on dvd inBelgium we love you and your music george
guido van der smissen
January 3, 2018
michael i'm a kid but i liet gorge jones was a good singerb
michael schatz
January 2, 2018
I grew up on your music George so I thank you for that. I would not want to pick just one song for my favorite because I loved all of them. You once asked who's gonna fill their shoes? Now I ask WHO'S GONNA FILL YOUR SHOES? I love. You George and now your making beautiful music in heaven
Pamela Adams
November 19, 2017
Thank you for all your great songs George. Grew up listening to your music. Now playing music in heaven. Rest in peace George.
Jo Ann Rocks
November 11, 2017
The best Country Music Singer that ever lived !George Jones' Music will remain in my heart forever He is missed by all.!
marg perrier
August 20, 2017
Sandra Vielle
August 20, 2017
I sure loved old George attended his funeral feel so bad for Nancy bless her heart!! whos going to fill them shoes! No one can
Janie Champion
August 19, 2017
God Bless George Jones I've Grown To Love His Songs over the last Few Years. My Thoughts and prayers go out to the family. One Of The Greatest Ever. He will Be Greatly Missed.
Jason Waterson
August 18, 2017
hello there,its the family van der smissen from Belgium ,we went to nashville and visit the country legend george jones ,our deepest respect to the family and george thanks for keeping the country music alive forever
guido van der smissen
August 3, 2017
There is no one like you George, I still listen to your music and have loved you since I was a teenager. I will never forget you.
Ann Pederson
June 20, 2017
You will never be forgotten!!
Claire Deleon
June 19, 2017
Possum you will be missed. Singing with angels
Trevor Patterson
June 18, 2017
George l seen you at a concert at Molson Park in Barrie Ont.You weren't very tall. But what a voice l will miss you .l have all your music to always listen to. R.I.P. Possum.
Wayne M. Menary
May 22, 2017
Rest in peace George jones u r a legend
Caleb Featheroff
May 22, 2017
I sure miss your new songs coming out. Thank god for my library of your treasures.
Vivian Ross
May 4, 2017
Rip george jones. You are very much missed. But your music lives on.
Alice Elliott
May 3, 2017
I surely miss you terribly,and I long to hear all your songs! God Bless you,
Yvonne Lightbody.
Yvonne Lightbody
April 27, 2017
Yesterday is gone. Today is a new day and another day you are sitting and praising our heavenly Father. No pain or sorrow just praising our Savior. So many have joined you George and I know that heavenly choir is beautiful beyond our wildest dreams. I still miss you everyday and long for the day that I can see you and hear your voice sing those old familiar tunes. I listen to you through your music you left us. Without you here it will never be the same. Nancy is still the very best champion for you and always will be. Happy Angel Day Blessings!
Betty Evans
April 27, 2017
FLOYD SALTZMAN
April 26, 2017
Tonight I'm playing Possum.
Gone but not forgotten.
Missing you.
Terah Jones
April 26, 2017
George, it was nice visiting with you last week. On April 7 I arrived at your beautiful resting place just as the sun was setting. Mrs. Nancy picked out the most peaceful place for you. Such a beautiful site to see.
Mrs. Nancy, Thank you so much for allowing anyone to
"Step Right Up & Come On In"
xoxo :)
Terah Jones
April 15, 2017
Love your music Mr Jones
March 19, 2017
George, with a tear in my eye, and memories rolling down my cheeks, There is no denying you was the best ever was. Your music loved and missed very much !!
vicki Fankell
February 14, 2017
Listen to your music often, sad knowing the greatest is in heaven. You will forever be missed. Keep watching over Nancy.
Cathy Alvarez
February 12, 2017
Miss you ever day.ant the same Curtis Holmes of Covington.Ky
Curtis
February 11, 2017
George as long as I have your CD'S you will live forever. I listen to you every day and still miss you. I know Nancy misses you very much and wishes you were here to celebrate Thanksgiving with her but she knows you are watching over her.
November 24, 2016
Happy Thanksgiving George. I'm sure our Lord has a feast that is better than we could ever imagine. You will be forever missed and loved.
Betty Evans
November 24, 2016
Love you George will be Forever Missed by My Michael & My Brother Steven
Michael G Thompson
November 23, 2016
Michael G Thompson
November 23, 2016
You were one of my favorite singers, and i will miss you, but i have so many of your CDS to listen to, and that will keep you alive to me forever!!!! love you George.
Betty Norman
November 22, 2016
vanessa st.John
November 21, 2016
Valenda Newell
November 9, 2016
Louise Cyr
November 4, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Stanley Bryan Hughes
October 3, 2016
Happy Heavenly Birthday George. I will be playing Possum all day long! Love and miss you.
Betty Evans
September 12, 2016
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Yvonne Lightbody
July 12, 2016
So sad
Tammy Mejia
June 24, 2016
Take comfort in knowing that now you have a special guardian angel to watch over you.
Stan Kaiser
May 14, 2016
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
May 14, 2016
sabrina haskins
May 13, 2016
Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us.

Saepe Expertus, Semper Fidelis, Fratres Aeterni.

Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever.

Thank you for your service to this nation.
Harry Simpson
April 30, 2016
It's been 3 years since you left us!! "REST IN PEACE"
SKL
April 26, 2016
3 years ago today you went home to be with our Lord. Even though we know you are at peace we still miss you more with every passing day. Our love for you grows fonder and the knowing that we will see you soon becomes sweeter everyday. Thank you for your life and the music you left us. I listen to your sweet voice everyday. RIP George till we meet again.
Betty Evans
April 26, 2016
It was a privilege to have shared life with a great singer such as you . We have enjoyed your songs many times . Love you.
We will see you again in heaven.
Joe Griffin
April 24, 2016
Melanie Wheaton and family
April 13, 2016
R.I.P George, you and so many of the classic country singers will be so missed. you have left us alot of enjoyable music to treasure. you will never be forgotten .
I was raised in a house with your music and still enjoy it very much.
judy violette
April 11, 2016
Grief can be so hard, but our special memories help us cope. Remembering you and your loved one today and always.
myrtis shell
April 1, 2016
Here it is Easter 2016 I'm watching YouTube and wanted to say I will miss you George Jones.....you played a show a few years back in Concord NH it was great.....I bought a jacket with you and Merle on it....and your wife said that deserves a hug....what a team...sorry for your loss Nancy and family.
Tabor Eaton Manchester NH
Tabor Eaton
March 27, 2016
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