Country music legend George Jones is known as much for his iconic songs “White Lightnin’” and “The Grand Tour” almost as much has his infamous antics off the stage (including one night when he was arrested for driving a riding lawnmower to a bar while under the influence). But cleaning up his act and the love of a good woman have allowed the performer once infamously called “No Show Jones” to delight crowds with at least 70 shows a year, including a concert at Harrah’s Cherokee Resort Event Center this Saturday.
“There are so many ‘stories’ about me I could never tell half of them or refute them for that matter,” Jones joked in a recent email exchange. “I have become wiser over the years.
I don’t drink or smoke anymore. I take better care of myself than I did in years past, and I owe most of the positive changes to my wife, Nancy. I think what made me the man I am today is I stayed true to the music I love, and that is country music. Whether you love my music or hate it, it has remained constant … I keep it country.”
In a climate where a lot of country music released sounds more like pop music with a layer of twang on top to reach rural demographics, Jones continues to reach new and old fans with a catalog ranging from his first top five record (1955’s “Why Baby Why”) through his prolific ’70’s duets with former wife, Tammy Wynette, and more recent chart toppers “I Don’t Need Your Rocking’ Chair” and “High Tech Redneck.”
“I would have to say my favorite is “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and that is because of the audience reaction. I am pretty sure if I did not sing that song I would have some very unhappy fans,” he explained. “I always do “White Lightnin’” in my set. It is such a great song and was my first number one hit single. I have made it no secret that I am not thrilled with the state of country music, mostly because it isn’t what I call country anymore, or at least a lot of it isn’t.”
At 79, Jones may not be touring as much as he did e in the first 50 years of his music career, but that does not mean the audience will get any less than his best when he takes the stage at Harrah’s on Saturday.
“My show is very entertaining,” Jones promised. “We have videos that play during some songs, I sing as many songs as I possibly can and even do a medley of several because there is no way to do all of them in one night. My band and I will give them their (money’s) worth if they buy a ticket. I have played Harrah’s Cherokee Casino about four times. I always love to work in a casino because they treat you great, and I must admit, I like to gamble a little.”