By Howard Cohen
The Miami Herald
George Jones has been called the “greatest living country singer.” When you listen to the way his buttery voice and his distinctive phrasing so fully inhabits such hits as She Thinks I Still Care, He Stopped Loving Her Today or Golden Ring (a duet with late ex-wife Tammy Wynette) you believe.
Jones, 81, has been releasing music since his first Top 5 hit in 1955, Why Baby Why, and a new album’s on the way. But his current The Grand Tour (named for his 1974 hit), which comes to South Florida Saturday, is his last, he swears.
Perfect time to chat with Jones via email about life, love and country.
Keith Richards and James Taylor have cited your music as an influence. What can a country artist learn from a rock artist and vice-versa?
I think anytime you work with an artist from a different genre than yours, you pick up on things they do and admire how they approach a song or the style they use to perform the song. It may not be the way you would do it, but I appreciate the differences. It was great to record with Keith Richards, and after the project was completed, I had people ask who that new artist was singing on Say It’s Not You. It was funny to me that some people didn’t realize it was a rock and roll legend.
What will be the thing you most miss about live performing?
I will miss my fans and the thrill I get from looking out over an audience of people from young to old and see them singing along to every song.
You’ve had the honor of bringing some of country’s greatest compositions to life. What do you look for in a song before you record it?
I look for a song that moves me that I can relate to. I turned down He Stopped Loving Her Today numerous times because I thought it was just too sad, and people would not want to hear it. Finally, my producer and friend Billy Sherrill convinced me to record it and the rest, as they say, is history.
What gets better with age?
Wisdom and knowledge.
Tell us about the new studio album you are recording with Dolly Parton.
I am so excited to be working on a project with Dolly. She is a dear friend, and I am such a fan of her work. I am just waiting on her to give me the song and to tell me when to sing!
What song (or album) would you like to be known for — and why?
That is really a tough question. There are so many I am proud of. . . . some from the early days in my career, then some that were done much later. I will say I had a lot of fun recording The Bradley Barn Sessions with so many people I admire. Each song took on a life of its own as we were working together in the studio. There wasn’t any of that stuff where I recorded my part and a week later Alan Jackson came in and did his part. We were there together for all the sessions, and it is a great album.
Say you’re a judge on American Idol. What advice would you have for the younger generation who envisions a career in country music?
Never give up, be yourself and keep it country!
• George Jones performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, 5550 NW 40th St. Call 954-977-6700 or visit www.seminolecasinococonutcreek.com. Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.
— HOWARD COHEN
by Chuck Dauphin, Nashville
January 24, 2013
Over the past six decades, George Jones has performed to countless fans. On February 2 in Tunica, Miss., that story will begin to come to an end with the launch of “The Grand Tour,” Jones’ final series of concerts – named after his classic 1974 chart-topper. The singer tells Billboard that while there are no regrets about his decision to retire from the road, his emotions are running high.
“It is a little bittersweet,” says the 1992 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee. “I have been blessed to do what I love for all these years and when I return to places that I know I will be performing for the last time it makes me a little nostalgic and sad. I will surely miss my fans and the good people I have met along this journey.”
In addition to the fans, Jones’ mind also goes back to the many artists he has shared a stage with over the years. When asked about a few tours that stand apart from the others, “The Possum” didn’t miss a beat. After recalling fond memories of touring with Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, he singled out the late Tammy Wynette, his wife between 1969-1975.
“We had been divorced for many years and each had different spouses but we came together for a five month tour in 1995,” he recalls. “The fans loved it and just about every show was sold out. They especially liked it when we would sing a duet and my wife Nancy and her husband George Richey would walk out on stage.”
Jones is also bringing the curtain down on his recording career, as well. After making records since the 1950s, (His first Billboard top ten was 1955’s “Why Baby Why") and placing more singles on the country chart than any other artist, he is also starting work on his final release, with the help of Dolly Parton.
“I love Dolly, always have and I am so honored to be doing a project with her,” he says. “She is writing most of the songs and we all know what a great songwriter she is. I am just waiting for her to tell me what to sing and when to sing it!”
Jones has worked with Parton before. Actually, he was the original artist to sing with her on 1991’s “Rockin’ Years” before Ricky Van Shelton.
Jones has also shared the microphone with several artists outside the country format – ranging from Harry Connick, Jr., James Taylor, Elvis Costello and Linda Ronstadt. What were some of his favorites? “All of the above,” he states. “Ray Charles, Keith Richards and Leon Russell also come to mind.” Jones’ 1962 classic “A Girl I Used To Know” was once cited by Charles as his favorite country song.
With so many artists calling him the world’s greatest country singer, how does Jones want to remembered? He has a simple answer. “I would like to be remembered as a singer who stayed true to country music and did it my way.”
By Matt Wake | firstname.lastname@example.org
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Country music legend George Jones’ final tour will make a stop in Huntsville.
The crooner is set to play the Von Braun Center Mark C. Smith Concert Hall 7:30 p.m. April 27. Tickets ($48) go on sale 10 a.m. Jan. 25, available via the VBC Box Office (700 Monroe St.), ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling 800-745-3000.
Last summer, Jones announced he would retire from touring following his 2013 trek. The singer – known for hits including “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “White Lightning – began his 60-date “Grand Tour” in 2012. According to georgejones.com, Jones is planning to record a duets album with fellow country star Dolly Parton.
George Jones is bringing “The Grand Tour,” his farewell series of concerts, to Spartanburg.
The legendary country music singer will perform May 18 at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium as part of a tour that Jones has said will be his last. Contemporary country duo Wilson Fairchild will open the show.
Reserved tickets, priced at $42.75, are on sale now at the auditorium box office and at Ticketmaster outlets including Publix supermarkets. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at 1-800-745-3000.
After more than five decades of touring, Jones, 81, has decided he is ready to slow down and spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren. “It is tough to stop doing what I love, but the time has come,” Jones said in a news release.
Considered by many as the greatest country singer of all-time, Jones is a 1992 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee with more than a dozen No. 1 hits to his credit.
Concerts on “The Grand Tour” will feature Jones performing such classics as “White Lightning,” “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” and “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair.”
For more information, visit the auditorium’s website at www.crowdpleaser.com.
Last summer, George Jones announced he would quit touring at the end of his 2013 road trip.
That victory lap, dubbed “The Grand Tour,” will stop at the Fox Theatre at 7:30 p.m. April 19. Tickets are $42.75 and on sale at 10 a.m. Jan. 25.
The country music icon, known for his hits “White Lightning,” “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,” started the 60-date tour last year.
Jones remarked at the time he announced the farewell run that, “It is tough to stop doing what I love, but the time has come.”
Plans are also still in the works for a Jones/Dolly Parton album.
Tickets can be purchased at the Fox box office, www.foxatltix.com or by calling 1-855-ATL-TIXX.