George Jones’ iconic voice still echoes in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Nearing the seven-year anniversary of his death on April 26th, we still celebrate and listen to his music today. Mr. Jones was a definitive artist for his era of country music, his smooth like butter voice and style set the tone for his time and many artists to come in country music. Jones’ voice was known to carry such deep-emotion just by tremoring of his deep, baritone voice. Waylon Jennings once said, “if we could all sound like what we wanted to sound like, we would sound like George Jones.”
George Jones, also known as “the Possum” life was comparable to a country song. Born with a broken arm in Saratoga, Texas, an oil field town. He was born to an impoverished family, his father worked as a pipe lifter and truck driver. Jones first listened to country music at the age of seven and was instantly mesmerized by the strum of a guitar. He was given his first guitar by his father when he was nine. From there, his Sunday School teacher taught him how to play guitar and how to sing. Young George Jones would be seen singing in the streets of Saratoga, Texas for money and at a local Pentecostal church.
After serving in the Marines in San Jose, California, where Jones continued his music career playing in bars, he signed to Starday Records where Pappy Daily became his producer and manager. Pappy Daily, also the co-owner of Starday Records, has been known for cultivating numerous stars such as Benny Barnes and Roger Miller. Jones released his first single, “No Money in This Deal” in 1954. This single didn’t gain as much traction as his next single “Why Baby Why” which is known as Jones’ first hit. During the 1950’s he then followed with many more singles such as “Just One More” and “The Color of the Blues.” George Jones’ most popular song to this day is “He Stopped Loving Her Today” which stayed number one on the charts for eighteen weeks. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was about a man’s love for his woman never dies till the day he dies. As a beautiful ode to his memory, after Jones’ death, the song found itself on the country charts once again at number 21.
After his start in the 1950’s Jones started writing and producing huge hits. Jones had a hit in every decade starting in the 1950’s all the way up to 2010. During this span of time Jones rise to fame took a toll on him. He struggled with an addiction to alcohol and cocaine, causing him to miss shows and go missing from time to time, this eventually earned him a new nickname, “No Show Jones.” As a humorous joke, Jones had a personalized license plate that read “IDOSHOW” as a playful nod to the nickname.
Jones’ country music career was awarded and recognized countless times. He received fourteen Grammy nominations and of those Jones won five. He won several CMAs and was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992 and again in 2010 for the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. Jones went on to be a part of the first country music show to ever grace the stage at Madison Square Garden. Each act was allotted two songs, Jones had to be pulled off the stage after his fifth song. Jones had a passion for country music that he was seemingly born with. He never had to try too hard in country, he simply and easily was an embodiment of country music. Ironically enough, Jones was never captured wearing a cowboy hat in any photos as concerts fans claim.
Jones died April 26, 2013 in the home of country music, Nashville, Tennessee.
Written by Danessa Goulston