Country Music Legend, George Jones has passed away at the age of 81. His funeral was held at the Grand Ole Orpy House in Nashville, Tennessee on May 2, 2013. I felt fortunate to listen to the meaningful funeral service on WSM Live. It was enlightening to hear not only country music stars honor him with spiritual songs but to hear Former First Lady Laura Bush, Governor Mike Huckabee, Barbara Mandrell, and Kenny Chesney speak.
George was born Sept. 12, 1931 in Texas. He came from humble beginning and remained a very humble man in ever step of his career. He first started singing with a guitar at the age of eleven in front of the steps of a church for a few coins. He recalled how the coins accumulated into twenty-four dollars, the most money he had ever seen. He had his first number one hit in 1959. He worked hard for his accomplishments with nothing handed down to him. He struggled and survived long battles with alcoholism, drug addiction and other misfortunes in his life. In 1983, Jones married his fourth and final wife, Nancy, whom he credited with stabilizing his life. He was still touring when he passed away. He stated,” I’ll be out there as long as the people want me to be out there.”
Jones had No. 1 songs in five separate decades, 1950s to 1990s. He was idolized not just by fellow country artists. His 1980 recording of “He Stopped Loving Her Today” became one of the most revered songs in country music history and won him a Grammy award in 1981. Another classic, “Choices” also won him a Grammy Award in 1999. “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair” “White Lightening” “Golden Ring” “We’re Going to Hold On” “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” “The Race is On” “A Good Year For The Roses” and ” Walk Through This World With Me” are just a few of his many hits.
Jones has received the four highest honors that can be granted to anyone in his line of work, starting with his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. Ten years later, the president bestowed the National Medal of Arts upon him. In yet another executive-branch moment, Jones was saluted by the Kennedy Center Honors in 2008.
This year, Jones got another top honor to round out music’s most enviable trophy shelf, as the Grammys presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award.
A quote from Alan Jackson,“Well, heaven better get ready for some great country music. While George was known for his wild and crazy days, I’ve known him for 25 years as a friend. He had grown into a real good man. Of course, he’ll always be the greatest singer and interpreter of real country music – there’ll never be another. Like the song says, ‘You know this old world is full of singers, but just a few are chosen to tear your heart out when they sing. Imagine life without them…Who’s gonna fill their shoes.”
Rest in Peace, George. May your authentic baritone voice live on …
Until next time with more Sweet Conclusions,