Friday, April 26, 2013

George Jones

I am sure that everyone by now knows that Grand Ole Opry member and Country Music Hall of Fame member George Jones passed away early this morning. His biography is well known and has been printed elsewhere. He was a country music icon who influenced so many others, as he was influenced himself. He said on numerous occasions that Roy Acuff was his favorite singer growing up and that he wanted to sing like Ray. In many ways, George copied Roy's style.

This weekend's Grand Ole Opry performances will be dedicated to George Jones, and the following is the tribute that will be read before the performances tonight and tomorrow:

"This performance of the Grand Ole Opry is dedicated to Grand Ole Opry member George Jones, who passed away in Nashville this morning at age 81.

For countless country fans and fellow country artists, George Jones was, simply put, the greatest country singer who ever lived. His career achievements are as impressive as anyone else's in country music. George charted more singles in his extraordinary career than any other artist in any other format. In 1992, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and won the Academy of Country Music's Pioneer Award. Ten years later, he was presented with the National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest honor for artistic excellence.

George has given us countless songs that will live as long as there is a Grand Ole Opry and as long as people everywhere are singing country music. Among his enduring standards are "Why, Baby, Why?", "White Lightnin'," "She Thinks I Still Care," "The Race Is On, "Walk Through This World With Me," "The Grand Tour," "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," and so many more. Another of his classics is often named by fans the world-wide as the best country music song of all time, the unforgettable "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

As if his body of work as a solo artist was not enough, George added to his repertoire work as part of duo teams, including some of the most popular duets in country music history with Tammy Wynette. Their signature releases include "We're Gonna Hold On," "Near You," and "Golden Ring."

George was known by his many friends as "The Possum", was a matchless influence on the artistss who came after him. Among the many, many Opry members who have cited George as a major career influence include Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Joe Diffie, Vince Gill, Lorrie Morgan, Brad Paisley, and Randy Travis, to name just a few. Virtually everyone who will take the Opry stage this weekend and for years to come have been inspired by the music of George Jones.

One of the many gifts that was bestowed on George during his time with us is that he lived to an age in which he was able to see the legacy he would one day leave country music. He lived to know what an impact he had made on the music he loved.

We are honored that George chose to spend his 70th, 75th, and 80th birthdays with us here at the Opry. On those very special nights, George was surrounded by an Opry House packed with loyal fans. On stage, some of his best friends sang several of George's biggest hits, told great George Jones stories, and shared what the songs and their dear friend meant to them.

Tonight, we're even more thankful for those songs and stories....and for the man who made them an indelible part of our lives. Tonight we think of George's wife Nancy, his family, and friends. Tonight, the Grand Ole Opry salutes our dear friend, Opry member George Jones."

George's history with the Grand Ole Opry is mixed at best. He originally joined the Opry on August 11, 1956. He stayed for a while and then he left, rejoining the show on January 4, 1969. Some say he left again right after that, rejoining the show for a 3rd time on March 31, 1973. What I do know is that he never did the Opry more than a couple of times each year. It is interesting that in their dedication, the Opry highlights his birthday appearances. It should be noted that for each of those years, those were George's only Opry shows. Understand, I agree that George was a country music icon, just not a great Opry member.

I never met George Jones, although I did meet his wife Nancy, who was kind enough to have George autograph his biography to me. Like many others, I saw him several times at the Opry and he was always well received. I just wish that he had been there more often. I also saw him in concert several times and they were great shows. I am sorry that his great voice left him over the past several years. What I find most amazing about George Jones is the fact that he lived to age 81. When you consider his life, the drinking and drugs, the marriages and business failures, that is truly amazing.

I would expect at some point the Opry will have a special show dedicated to the music of George Jones. They are good at doing shows such as that, and they should. His life and legacy should be celebrated and the success he had should be highlighted.

Prayers and thoughts go to Nancy and his entire family.


  1. Once I read that Roy Acuff was his idol, I listened a little differently. Basically, if George Jones hadn't drawn out his syllables or Mr. Acuff had done so, they would have sounded very similar in The Possum's early career. I read an article in which the author, who adores Jones's singing, said he may be the greatest American male singer ever and that Sinatra once called him the second greatest one.

  2. Fred, Bismarck:

    The old story is that the first guy, forget who, who tried to record George told him something like: "So far you've sounded like Hank Williams, Roy Acuff and Lefty Frizzell. Can you sound like George Jones?" Turned out he could, and those first Starday tracks were laid down.

    I saw George and Tammy in my one Opry visit, in May 1969, when they were surprise guests. (Another was Johnny Cash.) Then I saw him in Bismarck about 25 years ago with Merle Haggard and Conway Twitty. Did get to shake his hand backstage as a member of the press covering the show. He was just a little guy, which surprised me, given his reputation for pugnacity. (Of course, as we also know from Roy Acuff, dynamite sometimes comes in small packages.)

  3. I am sad the Possum passed away.George was one of my favorite country singers of all time,after Hank Sr.,Johnny Cash,Bill Monroe and Jimmie Rodgers.He will live forever.

  4. I found your comments about George not being a great Opry member to be incredibly tacky. Yes, George certainly could have played the Opry a little more, as could lots of members. However, this is not the time to bring that up. We should be remembering and honoring George for his contributions to the lives of anyone who loves country music, not broadcasting his faults.

  5. Love the Sinatra comment. I could picture Frank saying that. Leonard, sorry if I offended with my Opry comment. Certainly not my intention.

  6. Mom was the George Jones fan ...

    Dad was the Buck Owens/Waylon Jennings fan ...

    Mom & Dad were Merle Haggard fans ...

    What a lucky kid I was being introduced to a genre of music that continues to steal my heart when I listen to it. And even though they have both passed on, thanks Mom & Dad. :-)

    I listened to George's music on WSM all day - they turned the Air Castle of the South over to their fans & listening audience & took requests live all day. And to think, all I was about to do was hook up with WSM at 9am to listen to an interview that Bill Cody was going to have with Mark Chesnutt as he has new music coming out & I really like his music. Shortly after the news broke, Mark was so devastated by the news of his good friend, teacher & mentor
    passing away, that he couldn't even stay to do the interview. At that point, WSM started playing all George Jones music ... one great song after another. Same Ole Me, Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes, Window Up Above, She Still Thinks I Care & Choices - just a short list of my very favorite George Jones songs.

    For those who listened, tonight's Opry show was dedicated to George Jones. All members & artists paid tribute to him. Too bad they will remove his name from the roster list soon. I really wish they wouldn't do that - or start a list of those members who have passed away.

    I have to give the country station in Chicago credit, their noon-time all-request show was filled with George Jones music & I did hear "He Stopped Loving Her Today" earlier this evening. I was impressed as that is not the music they normally play & posted my thanks on their Facebook page.

    Mark Chesnutt's Opry performance tonight was just terrific but he barely got through it.

    An Opry walk-on surprise by Brad Paisley, who lost it at the end but did a great, great job paying tribute to George.

    So many artists posted their condolences on Facebook throughout the day. I have yet to listen to the musical tribute to George by Keith Urban that was posted on Facebook. Of all the ones I did read, the best tribute was posted by Maxine Brown on her Facebook page:

    Sad day folks.

    Today, with the passing of my good friend, George Jones, the door to an era in time is slowing 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

    What a wonderful thing to say from one great country singer to the best country singer of all time. (just my opinion) Love Ray Price too.

    Listening to Eddie Stubbs & his Live by Request show he has every Friday after the Opry - as one would think, all requested George Jones music. He has announced, for those interested, that he will have a formal 5 hour tribute to George on his "Way Back Wednesday" show - from 7 to midnight this coming Wednesday night. Move over American Idol, you'll be taped for later viewing ....

    Rest in Peace George Jones - you left your voice and extensive body of work for all to love and enjoy - NO ONE will EVER fill your shoes, never ... ever ... (again, my opinion)


  7. George Jones was a great singer, maybe the best. I have dozens of his LP's and yes he could sound a lot like Mr. Acuff if he wanted to. Listen to some of those things him and Melba Montgomery did. She worked with Roy and fit his mountain style very well.

    I agree with Bryon and no offense intended at all but you would think George could have been at the Opry a little more. If I understand correctly, he did live in Nashville. I am not making a judgement at all as to how long each tribute was but I found it interesting how long it was for George verses Jack Greene. No doubt George was a superstar and Jack was not. However, Jack supported the Opry more and maybe that is exactly due to George being the superstar with many more obligations! Both were well done. Pete Fisher seems to be doing a better job with these situations as well as anniversaries. Credit when it is due!


    Knightsville, IN

  8. After the passing of Wynn Stewart & Buck Owens, George Jones was the last of my musical heroes still living. Now that they're all 3 gone I feel very much lost. I'm so glad, however, they left behind such a great body of work that everyone can enjoy for many, many years to come. Rest in peace Possum. You've been reunited with Tammy and Paycheck.

  9. I would echo Jim in saying that obviously Byron meant no offense. Further, I would add that a big part of the obituaries on The Possum has been--let's face it--parts of his life that aren't entirely admirable. Nor did George himself think they were admirable. More power to him that he overcame and came back from so much. I honor his memory. But I wish more of those memories had not been of his very rare Opry appearances and his declaration each time that he loved the Opry and wished he was there more. I wish he had been.

    Country Boy Lance, I know what you mean. It's tough to think there will be no more music, no more sense that they were, well, THERE.

  10. RIP George. You will be missed but your songs will live on..............

  11. George's family has asked that memorials be made to the Opry Trust Fund. That's a very classy thing to do

  12. What a beautiful funeral service this morning for George. WSM aired it live.
    As I understand it, WSM will have it available soon on their website as an archive, but only until 10:00 AM tomorrow morning.