George Jones: One Of A Kind (R.I.P.)

George Glenn Jones (born September 12, 1931 – died April 26, 2013) is an American country music singer known for his long list of hit records, his distinctive voice and phrasing, and his marriage to Tammy Wynette.

Over the past 20 years, Jones has frequently been referred to as “the greatest living country singer.”[1] Country music scholar Bill C. Malone writes, “For the two or three minutes consumed by a song, Jones immerses himself so completely in its lyrics, and in the mood it conveys, that the listener can scarcely avoid becoming similarly involved.”

Throughout his long career, Jones made headlines often as much for tales of his drinking, stormy relationships with women, and violent rages as for his prolific career of making records and touring. His wild lifestyle led to Jones missing many performances, earning him the nickname “No Show Jones.” With the help of his fourth wife, Nancy, he has been sober for many years. Jones chalked up more than 150 hits during his career, both as a solo artist and in duets with other artists.


“The Grand Tour” — I admire the way he references the lower register, anchoring his tenor lines with occasional grace notes from an octave below. Fabulous pitch, of course — and the emotional veracity of the performance is undeniably powerful.

“Choices” — the fact this guy has survived after the abuse he’s given himself is amazing.

[He] was born in 1931 in the East Texas town of Saratoga. As a kid he sang for tips on the streets of nearby Beaumont. By age 24, he had been married twice, served in the Marines and was a veteran of the Texas honky-tonk circuit. On a recording session in 1955 for Starday Records, producer Pappy Dailey suggested he quit singing like his idols, Lefty Frizzell, Roy Acuff and Hank Williams, and try singing like George Jones. The result was “Why Baby Why,” his first Top Five Hit.


“He Stopped Loving Her Today” — Country music is unafraid to be maudlin. The upward modulation mid-song is characteristic of many of Jones’ performances; I have to say, it’s something I could do without.

JONES…married country music’s hottest new female artist Tammy Wynette in 1969. He soon joined Wynette’s label, Epic Records, where he enjoyed an extremely successful 20-year association with producer Billy Sherrill. His hits included “The Grand Tour” “A Picture Of Me Without You” and “The Door” and, while his marriage to Wynette was stormy, they were perfect duet partners and their hits included “We’re Gonna Hold On,” ”Golden Ring” and “Near You.”


George & Tammy: “Two Story House” — a wonderful duet, recorded after their divorce.

According to Jones, he’s at best an indifferent guitarist:

George Jones has been called the “Rolls-Royce of country singers” throughout his decades-long career, but apparently there is one skill the singer has never quite mastered.

“I kinda wish I had learned to play the guitar better,” he tells Georgia’s Albany Herald newspaper. “My band finally took mine away from me because they said I was messing them up. Other than that, I could never ask for more. I have been very blessed.”

“White Lightning” — love the suit. Note the virtually useless guitar playing!


Jones received the 2008 Kennedy Center Honor from George W. Bush, along with Barbra Streisand, Morgan Freeman, choreographer Twyla Tharp and The Who’s Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.

“With his unique voice and extraordinary career endurance, singer George Jones has been instrumental in making country music a vital force in American life,” says Stephen A. Schwarzman, Kennedy Center chairman.


Can you imagine backstage conversation between Pete Townsend, Barbara Streisand, Roger Daltrey, George Jones, Morgan Freeman and Twyla Tharp? Now imagine Dubya coming in and joining them. Major buzzkill, I’d think.

“I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair” — The low register is very prominent here, and he’s got a good bluesy growl.

Go do a search on YouTube; there’s no shortage of great songs by this American Master.

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