(April 26, 2013) Earlier this morning, a dark cloud of unfortunate news was sent to me via text message by a friend. I was shocked, like everyone else to hear that the music world, the country music family most especially, lost yet another one of its greatest voices, member of the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame, George Jones.

It would take too much time to list all the countless awards, honors, highlights, and achievements that George Jones earned during his storied career, but that isn’t the focus today, rather I would like to personally write a farewell note to a very special person, who made country music everything that it should be, and without him, it would never be where it is today.

I grew up listening to George Jones like many of you, because my parents and grandparents exposed me to his music. Every once in a lifetime, there comes along an artist like George Jones who has the “it” factor; the voice, personality, and stage presence, and when you discover an artist like that, it’s that much harder to lose them.

Since founding Country Stars Central in the summer of 2006, one of my aspirations was to meet and interview George Jones. After years of hard work and networking, my first dream of meeting him came true in the spring of 2008, thanks to his daughter, Georgette Jones. My assistant Donna Stroup and I were in Nashville for CRS, and George was the keynote speaker at a special panel inside the Nashville Convention Center. Before George took the stage to address the audience, his daughter took us to a room off the side for a personal meet and greet. That day will forever remain special to me, and I am most grateful to Georgette for arranging my very first meeting with her father.

A few years later, in the fall of 2010, I had the honor of interviewing George for a cover story on Country Stars Central. His sweet and loving wife Nancy opened her and George’s busy schedule to grant me the opportunity to shine!! After that interview, I joined Nancy and George many times on the road for backstage meetings and photos. We shared some very special times together, and had a lot of fun.

I can’t help but think of the night that I presented George with his Country Stars Central cover in Rockford, Ill. He was so thrilled to receive the plaque, and gave me many kind compliments about the cover and interview article. It meant a lot to me to get that praise from such an iconic star.

I am thankful for the night that I took my Bappa to see George in Waukegan, Ill. My Bappa is a huge fan of George’s, and had never seen him live in concert before. That night, Nancy took him backstage to meet George, and get an autograph. **I’ll share a little funny story behind this meeting, if you don’t mind. Once my grandpa got backstage, and made his way over to George, he said to him “I can’t see too well, but I am happy to be here with you.” Then George quickly replied, “Well I can’t hear too well, so I guess between you not being able to see, and my not being able to hear, we are in pretty good shape!” ** Seeing my Bappa and George share that moment together was something I’ll never forget, and will always cherish.

I also can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am to Kirt Webster and his publicity firm for the kindness they have bestowed on my magazine through the years. Ever since I started Country Stars Central, Kirt has been there to support our publication in every way possible. The countless interviews, cover stories, media passes, and show reviews that he has granted will forever be appreciated. I would like to thank Kirt for giving me a platform to use my talents, and for allowing me to work with his wonderful clients. I look forward to many more years of building our relationship together.

George may have been a superstar, but his heart was real, his spirit giving, and soul full of love. These are the reasons I started CSC, to pay homage to all the greats that made country music what country music was, and always should be; TRADITIONAL all the way!! For as long as Jones lived, he maintained that sound, and style, because he truly cared about preserving the foundation of country music’s origins with the world.

I just wanted to share my thoughts with all of you, and I hope that you will join me in spirit to pray for the soul of George Jones, to pray for his loving wife Nancy, his daughter Georgette, extended family, and of course all his loving fans all over the world who are mourning the loss of a great, real country music, singer and songwriter.

In closing, I can’t help but think of two popular songs of George’s, “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair,” and “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes.” The first, to me, correlates to his final tour that was underway this year. George never seemed like the type who would want to retire from doing what he loved best, and in a sad, but fitting way, he never passed away as an artist retired from the road, but left it doing what he loved best; performing.

The second song, I think about all the time…. Who is going to fill these shoes as we continue to lose these great legends one by one? I am sure there are many that you can name while you read this, but I will list some of the ones that I think are best suited to continue carrying the torch in honor of George Jones; Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Gene Watson, Alan Jackson, Tanya Tucker, Randy Travis, Patty Loveless, Lee Ann Womack, LeAnn Rimes, Joe Nichols, Josh Turner, Kellie Pickler, Easton Corbin… finish the rest.

While we are hurting, and missing George down here on earth, we can pray that he now joins our Lord in his heavenly kingdom with all the saints and angels. There is also a very special country music club up there in Heaven that George is now a part of; Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Tammy Wynette, Dottie West, Jack Greene, Porter Wagoner, Vestal Goodman, Dottie Rambo, Ernie Ashworth, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, and so many others are celebrating the joyous occasion of being together in the light of Eternal love.

Rest in peace George, I will always admire your music, talent, and the kindness you bestowed upon me through the years. I didn’t know you for very long, but those few short years will mean more to me than I could ever explain. I pray that you rest peacefully, and with my help, and that of many others, we will see to it that your legacy never ends, and the music always lives on.

Until we meet again…..
God Bless you,
Christian F. Scalise

Our final interview with George Jones;