To honor George Jones, EW asked the Oak Ridge Boys’ Joe Bonsall to recall his fondest memories of the country legend, who died today at the age of 81. They include the time Jones told Bonsall he should’ve just kicked his ass — and hearing “He Stopped Loving Her Today” before its release.
By: Joe Bonsall Read More
He Ignited Songs With His Voice
His was a voice of kerosene teardrops about to burst into a raging fire. When George Jones sang a song, there was never any doubt that he committed completely to whatever emotion – usually one of raw ache, unfiltered regret, unspeakable torment – the song held.
And he could pick ‘em. “Window Up Above,” “Good Year for the Roses,” “The Grand Tour,” “Walk Through This World With Me,” “If My Heart Had Windows” were all trenchant moments in the caverns of the human heart. Even his novelty songs were world class, be it the hiccupping “White Lightning,” the horse track metaphoric “The Race Is On” or, in later years, the feisty all-star “I Don’t Need Your Rocking Chair.”
GREAT AMERICAN COUNTRY REMEMBERS AN ICON RE-AIRS GEORGE JONES “OPRY LIVE” EPISODE, “MASTER SERIES” AND “COUNTRY STARS AT HOME” SPECIALS THIS WEEKEND
NASHVILLE, TENN. (April 26, 2013) – To honor the memory of country music icon George Jones, Great American Country is rescheduling their programming through the weekend to include classic Jones specials from the GAC vault. Additionally, fans can share their favorite memories of Jones by logging on to facebook.com/GAC.
“For many, George Jones defined country music,” said GAC GM Sarah Trahern. “We wanted to offer our viewers another glimpse into his life and remarkable career as they process this great loss.”
(All times Eastern.)
Friday, April 26:
7:00 p.m. Country Stars at Home (2011): George and wife Nancy give fans unprecedented access to their Tennessee home.
Saturday, April 27:
5:00 p.m. Master Series (2006): Host Bill Cody goes on a journey of the life and times of the incredible George Jones. Jones opens up about the good and bad times of his life, as well as his project, “Kickin’ Out the Footlights,” an album that teamed him with Merle Haggard for the 25th anniversary of the first time they sang together.
9:00 p.m. Opry Live (2011): The Grand Ole Opry celebrates George Jones’ 80th birthday as Alan Jackson, Lee Ann Womack, Jamey Johnson, The Oak Ridge Boys, Joe Diffie and Eric Lee Beddingfield perform. Host Nan Kelley chats with many of the artists in backstage interviews.
10:00 p.m. Country Stars at Home
Sunday, April 28:
10:00 a.m. Opry Live
11:00 a.m. Master Series
3:00 p.m. Opry Live
You can share your love, prayers and memories with Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org
“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
Keith Urban @KeithUrban
If I’m blessed enough to make it there, I look forward to you giving me the grand tour. Rest in peace George Jones!!!!! –KU
Urban Chat: Video 51: Rest In Peace George Jones http://youtu.be/pKiDcRq4YN4
Grand Ole Opry @opry
The music will never stop playing. Thank you, George and we will miss you. @gjpossum http://ow.ly/ksnbI #RememberingJones
Lee Brice @leebrice
Country music lost a great one today! @gjpossum will be missed… pic.twitter.com/OGqRhFUoGs
Mark Chesnutt @MarkChesnutt
My heart goes out to Nancy and the family. I’m gonna miss him.
Toby Keith @TobyKeithMusic
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
Clint Black @Clint_Black
@gjpossum Very sad farewell to George Jones. Deepest sympathies to Nancy and the family.
Lee Greenwood @TheLeeGreenwood
Blessed 2 have worked with heroes like Conway, Cash & @gjpossum. Their star burns so bright. When it goes out, there’s a void in our hearts.
Ricky Skaggs @RickySkaggs
“THE Country Music singer of all time. The words ‘Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes’ has never been more true than today."-Ricky Skaggs @gjpossum
We’re very saddened to hear of the death of our amazing friend George Jones.
Shooter Jennings @ShooterJennings
Nothing to say except George Jones will be missed. He was an incredible soul, inspiration, friend. Greatest singer of all time.
Little Big Town @LBTmusic
There will never be another George Jones. You are and always will be country music. Rest in peace. #GeorgeJones
Sad day for country music. Rest in peace, George Jones.
Michelle Branch @michellebranch
George Jones :*( R.I.P.
Tracy Lawrence @tracy_lawrence
I am so saddened by the news of George Jones’ passing.I will always treasure our times together. http://ow.ly/i/1YIe1 RIP @gjpossum
Clay Aiken @clayaiken
Sad to hear of the passing of the great George Jones, Soundtrack to much of my childhood. We’ll lay a wreath upon his door. Rest in peace.
Easton Corbin @eastoncorbin
What a sad day for country music. George Jones was one of my heroes.
Merle Haggard @merlehaggard
The world may have lost the greatest country singer that ever lived. pic.twitter.com/tdID9Sm57r
Joe Bonsall @joebonsall
Goodbye Possum https://socialcam.com/s/xb9Dbdpw
Kenny Rogers @_KennyRogers
Sad morning losing the great George Jones. He will always be one of the most amazing singers who ever lived. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYQViYm92hg …
RIP George “Possum” Jone
Rodney Atkins @RodneyAtkins
Sending prayers & love to Nancy & the whole Jones family & all of @gjpossum’s fans & friends. George Jones was a true country music legend
ali landry @alilandry
RIP George Jones. His music was the soundtrack of my childhood. My whole family were huge fans. What a legend
Johnny Knoxville @realjknoxville
George Jones R.I.P. You will be missed. xoxo pic.twitter.com/YoXssII47B
Dolly Parton @Dolly_Parton
My heart is absolutely broken. George Jones was my all time favorite singer… http://bit.ly/11q34Ev
Rob Thomas @ThisIsRobThomas
R.I.P. to a true country/american legend, George Jones. thanx for the music.
Billy Ray Cyrus @billyraycyrus
I’m stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend George Jones.The very definition of a legend. Thoughts and prayers
Sara Evans @saraevansmusic
So saddened to hear of George Jones’ passing. He was an idol of mine and a true legend! One of the best voices of a… http://say.ly/dET5Gsc
Luke Bryan @LukeBryanOnline
George. You will be deeply missed. Thanks for the beautiful memories.
Neal McCoy @NealMcCoy
We lost a great man today,, but his Music and his Spirit will live forever Go get some Rest now George Jones,,, you deserve it
The Band Perry @thebandperry
Country music and the world lost a true legend today… Mr. Jones, you will be greatly missed.
Hillary Scott @HillaryScottLA
Saddened by the passing of George Jones. Sending prayers up for his wife and family. Country Music will never be the same.
Troy Aikman @TroyAikman
Country music legend George Jones has passed away at 81. “The Possum” was one of my favorites…had the pleasure of meeting him years ago.
Lance Armstrong @lancearmstrong
RIP George Jones
Alan Jackson @OfficialJackson
Heaven better get ready for George Jones. He will always be the greatest singer of real country music – there’ll never be another.
The Oak Ridge Boys @oakridgeboys
We are devastated this morning … We have lost The Possum… Legend and Friend… RIP George Jones
LeAnn Rimes Cibrian @leannrimes
So sad we lost “the possum” today. R.I.P George Jones and know we didn’t stop loving you today. You will live on forever in our hearts.
Dierks Bentley @DierksBentley
Charlie Daniels @CharlieDaniels
Rest in peace George Jones There will never be another one like you and we’ll miss you a bunch Buddy.
Blake Shelton @blakeshelton
Really REALLY bad news. We’ve lost a country music legend. And I’ve lost a hero and a friend. Goodbye George Jones…
Darrell Waltrip @AllWaltrip
this is one of the saddest days in the history of country music, George Jones is a national treasure, he was a friend, God Bless the possum
Martina McBride @martinamcbride
So sad to hear about George Jones . His voice and music will be with us forever. Thoughts go out to all his family, friends and fans.
Larry The Cable Guy @GitRDoneLarry
RIP George Jones. Who’s gonna fill your shoes? You will be missed. Thank you for your awesome music.
Craig Morgan @cmorganmusic
We will miss our friend Mr George Jones RIP
John Rich @johnrich
Every serious country artist in the past 30 years has some #georgejones dna in their blood and music. My God. We’ve lost our Elvis.
Tim McGraw @TheTimMcGraw
Gone …… George Jones …..man he was country music
Faith Hill @FaithHill
We lost one of the best voices God created this morning. Our hearts are saddened to hear that George Jones has passed away…
…. Our thoughts and prayers are with Nancy and all of the family.
Bo Bice @OfficialBoBice
@gjpossum gonna take the day off from tweeting in memory of George, breaking out my Vinyl GJ & jam till midnight.
Bo Bice @OfficialBoBice
George Jones passed away this morning. We will miss ya Possum. There will never be another!! Make them angels weep up there GJ.
Brad Paisley @BradPaisley
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.
So sad to hear abt the passing of George Jones. Country music has lost one of our pioneers & legendary icons. You will never be forgotten.
Kix Brooks @KixBrooks
Possum, angels got a serious lead singer today - God bless Nancy his loving wife - what a guy- what a voice - that was one hell of a show!
Dierks Bentley @DierksBentley
nancy and @gjpossum had a beautiful marriage and special relationship. love you nancy. long live the possum. gonna miss my buddy. real sad.
Bob Kingsley @bobkingsleyct40
RIP @gjpossum All of us at CT40 express our deep sorrow to his wife Nancy & to his family, his friends, & his fans. https://www.facebook.com/countrytop40/posts/653322274683719 …
Sheryl Crow @SherylCrow
Such a sad day… May you Rest in Peace George Jones. @gjpossum
#RIPGeorgeJones http://www.bretmichaels.com/site-news/news2/r-i-p-george-jones/ … - My heartfelt prayers go out the family, friends and fans of George Jones. @gjpossum
Nashville, Tenn. (April 26, 2013) – 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.
You can share your love, prayers and memories with Nancy at email@example.com