George Glenn Jones (September 12, 1931 - April 26, 2013), was an award-winning American country music singer known for his long list of hit records, his distinctive voice and phrasing, and his famous marriage to fellow country star Tammy Wynette. Frequently referred to during the last twenty years of his career as "the greatest living country singer," Jones' superb vocal control and expressiveness influenced many top singers of the current generation of male country stars.
Jones had 14 number-one hit singles, including "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "White Lightning," "Walk Through This World With Me," and "She Thinks I Still Care," as well as many top-selling duets, especially with his third wife, the late Tammy Wynette. In the 1970s, Jones and Wynette were the acknowledged "king and queen" of country music, singing about and exemplifying an ideal of marital love which, unfortunately, lacked the foundation of individual character to last. Indeed, through much of his long career, Jones made headlines as much for tales of his drinking, carousing, and temper as for his music.
Jones' career spanned more than 55 years during which he gained a host of awards and national recognition. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, received the Grammy Hall of Fame award in 1998, and in 2002, he received the U.S. National Medal of Arts.
George Jones was born in Saratoga, Texas and raised in nearby Vidor, a few miles outside of Beaumont along with his brother and five sisters. Another sister died young before George was born. He was exposed to music from an early age through his parents' record collection and listening to the gospel music he heard in church. When George was seven, the Jones family bought a radio, which introduced George to the country music that would become his life. The gift of a guitar when Jones was a boy of nine soon saw him playing for tips on the streets of Beaumont.
Jones left home at 16 and headed for Jasper, Texas, where he found work singing and playing on a local radio station, later moving to KRIC in Beaumont. While there he briefly met his idol and greatest musical influence, Hank Williams, who had stopped by the station to promote a performance.
Before he was out of his teens, Jones married his first wife, Dorothy, but their union lasted less than a year. Jones then joined the United States Marine Corps and gained more musical experience singing in bars near his base in California.
After leaving the Marines, Jones married his second wife, Shirley Ann Corley in 1954. He signed with Starday records and had his first hit in 1955: "Why Baby Why." The song, which he had co-written, reached number four on the Billboard country chart. Jones reached number three in 1956, with "Just One More." Moving to the Mercury label, he recorded several rockabilly sides using the moniker "Thumper Jones."
Jones' career really took off in 1959, when his "White Lightning," an up-tempo novelty number about drinking moonshine whiskey, reached number one. Two more number one hits followed in 1961, with "Tender Years" and "She Thinks I Still Care." These ballads displayed Jones' unique use of tonal control to produce an unrivaled expressiveness, establishing him as one of the top talents of the era.
He continued to score hits consistently after switching to Musicor label, often the Top Ten in the mid and late 60s. He also had a number of hit duets singles and albums on various labels with Melba Montgomery, Gene Pitney, and several other artists. In 1967, his ballad, "Walk Through This World With Me" was yet another number one hit.Did you know?George Jones and Tammy Wynette recorded many hit duets that made the couple the undisputed king and queen of country music
After divorcing in 1968, Jones married Tammy Wynette the following year, a partnership that led to many more hit duets and made the couple the unquestioned king and queen of country music and a major attraction when they performed together live. Jones followed Wynette to Epic Records, where producer Billy Sherrill further perfected his sound. Their duet "Take Me" reached number nine in 1972. They followed this with the smash hit "We're Gonna Hold On" in 1973, reaching number one together for the first time.
Jones had two more number one hit singles on his own in 1974: "The Grand Tour" and "The Door." Jones' marriage to Wynette ended in 1975, but their singing partnership continued to score successes. Their ironic duet "Golden Ring," detailing several poignant chapters in a failed young marriage, reached number one in 1976. The duo's classic love song, "Near You" did likewise in 1977, despite the paradox of the now divorced couple pledging their undying love in song. Several Jones-Wynette albums of this period were also huge successes.
Despite his identification with ballads and romantic duets, Jones also recorded a number of novelty songs which delighted audiences through the years from his first number one "White Lightning" to "The Race Is On," "Love Bug," the duets "We're Not The Jet Set" and "God's Gonna Getcha For That" with Wynette, and many others.
In 1980, Jones released "He Stopped Loving Her Today," one of his biggest hits. It was honored as best record of the year by both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music, as well as a Grammy for best male country vocal performance. Jones was named CMA male vocalist of the year in 1980 and 1981.
In 1983, Jones married Nancy Sepulveda, who soon became his manager. In the 80s and 90s, Jones' reputation as a superb duet artist found him recording with such diverse singers as James Taylor, Johnny Paycheck (formerly Jones' singer partner in the "Jones Boys"), Ray Charles, Merle Haggard, Brenda Lee, Shelby Lynne, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, and Garth Brooks. The last three of these and many others of the younger generation of male country stars cited Jones as a major influence on their singing styles.
Jones moved to MCA Records in 1991, and in 1992 he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He soon produced a surprisingly successful video, "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair," as well as a hit album HighTech Redneck. His next offering was an acoustic album, The Bradley Barn Sessions, which also won critical acclaim, followed by a reunion album with Wynette entitled One, which proved that the couple could still both sing well as a couple and sell records together.
Jones career slowed in the later 90s as his drinking and carousing caused hims to miss many performances and solidified his reputation as "No Show Jones." However, his ' 1996 autobiography, I Lived to Tell It All, reached number six on the New York Times bestseller list. After a serious car crash in 1999, Jones released a reflective ballad entitled "Choices," which, while not a major hit, charted well and earned him another Grammy.
Jones has continued to be active in the new millennium, making numerous television appearances and recording the album The Rock: Stone Cold Country in 2001. In 2003, he released The Gospel Collection. His Hits I Missed… And One I Didn't (2005) featured songs Jones declined to record, but which became hits for the other artists, plus his own mega-hit "He Stopped Loving Her Today." In 2006, Jones and Merle Haggard collaborated on Kickin' Out the Footlights… Again.
Despite being in his 70s, Jones continued his career as an active recording artist and toured extensively on the North American continent as well as overseas. His other projects included the George Jones "University" which is a twice-yearly training program for those wishing to learn about a career in the music business. Jones was also a partner in Bandit Records. In 2006, he was treated in a hospital for pneumonia but made a full recovery and continued with his touring schedule. The year 2008 marked Jones' fifty-fifth year recording country music.
Jones had two sons with his second wife, Shirley Ann Corley. Jones had one daughter, Georgette, with Tammy Wynette. Georgette Jones, now a published country singer in her own right, has performed on stage with her famous father. He married his fourth wife, Nancy Sepulveda, on March 4, 1983, in Woodville, TX. Jones credited Nancy for rescuing him from drinking, as well as cocaine consumption. He and Nancy owned a diner in Enterprise, Alabama, which is decorated with memorabilia from Jones' long career in the country-music business.
George Jones died early in the morning of April 26, 2013, at the age of 81. He had been hospitalized since April 18, 2013, at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville with fever and irregular blood pressure.
Jones' gift of perfectly embodying a song's mood has been a key influence on numerous country artists. Other than his own idol, Hank Williams, he is cited more often by country singers as a major influence than any other artist. His duets with Tammy Wynette and others are among the best ever recorded, and his large catalog of solo albums and singles evidence his unique talent as a vocalist with superb range, control, sensitivity, and power.
His awards include:
- Inclusion in the Walkway of Stars at the Country Music Hall Of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame, 1970
- Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "He Stopped Loving Her Today," 1980
- Induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, 1992
- The Pioneer Award from the Academy of Country Music, 1993
- Grammy Hall of Fame Award, 1998
- U.S. National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts, 2002
- Ranked number three of the 40 Greatest Men of Country Music, CMT, 2003
- Kennedy Center Honors, Washington, D.C., 2008.
|Year||Title||US Country||Billboard 200||Label||RIAA|
|1957||Grand Ole Opry's New Star||-||-||Starday||-|
|1958||Hillbilly Hit Parade||-||-||-|
|1958||Long Live King George||-||-||-|
|1959||Country Church Time||-||-||Mercury||-|
|1959||White Lightning and Other Favorites||-||-||-|
|1960||George Jones Salutes Hank Williams||-||-||-|
|1962||Songs from the Heart||-||-||-|
|1962||Sings Country and Western Hits||-||-||-|
|1962||George Jones Sings Bob Wills||-||-||United Artists||-|
|1962||Homecoming in Heaven||-||-||-|
|1962||My Favorites of Hank Williams||-||-||-|
|1963||I Wish Tonight Would Never End||-||-||-|
|1963||What's in Our Hearts (with Melba Montgomery)||3||-||-|
|1964||A King & Two Queens (with Melba Montgomery and Judy Lynn)||-||-||-|
|1964||Bluegrass Hootenanny (with Melba Montgomery)||12||-||-|
|1964||George Jones Sings Like The Dickens!||6||-||-|
|1965||Famous Country Duets|
(with Gene Pitney and Melba Montgomery)
|1965||George Jones and Gene Pitney:|
For the First Time! Two Great Singers (with Gene Pitney)
|1965||George Jones and Gene Pitney (Recorded in Nashville!) (with Gene Pitney)||-||-||-|
|1965||Mr. Country & Western Music||13||-||-|
|1965||New Country Hits||5||-||-|
|1965||Old Brush Arbors||-||-||-|
|1966||I'm a People||1||-||-|
|1966||It's Country Time Again! (with Gene Pitney)||17||-||-|
|1966||We Found Heaven Right Here on Earth at "4033"||3||-||-|
|1967||Hits by George||9||-||-|
|1967||Walk Through This World with Me||2||-||-|
|1968||If My Heart Had Windows||12||-||-|
|1968||Sings the Songs of Dallas Frazier||14||-||-|
|1969||I'll Share My World with You||5||185||-|
|1969||Where Grass Won't Grow||15||-||-|
|1970||Will You Visit Me on Sunday?||44||-||-|
|1971||George Jones with Love||9||-||-|
|1971||George Jones Sings the Great Songs of Leon Payne||26||-||-|
|1971||We Go Together (with Tammy Wynette)||3||169||Epic||-|
|1972||A Picture of Me (Without You)||3||-||-|
|1972||George Jones (We Can Make It)||10||-||-|
|1972||Me and the First Lady (with Tammy Wynette)||6||-||-|
|1972||We Love to Sing About Jesus (with Tammy Wynette)||38||-||-|
|1973||Let's Build a World Together (with Tammy Wynette)||12||-||-|
|1973||Nothing Ever Hurt Me (Half as Bad as Losing You)||12||-||-|
|1973||We're Gonna Hold On (with Tammy Wynette)||3||-||-|
|1974||In a Gospel Way||42||-||-|
|1974||The Grand Tour||11||-||-|
|1975||George & Tammy & Tina (with Tammy Wynette)||37||-||-|
|1975||Memories of Us||43||-||-|
|1976||Golden Ring (with Tammy Wynette)||1||-||-|
|1979||My Very Special Guests (with various artists)||38||-||-|
|1980||Double Trouble (with Johnny Paycheck)||45||-||-|
|1980||I Am What I Am||7||132||Platinum|
|1981||Together Again (with Tammy Wynette)||26||-||-|
|1981||Still the Same Ole Me||3||115||Gold|
|1982||A Taste of Yesterday's Wine (with Merle Haggard)||-||123||-|
|1982||Anniversary - 10 Years Of Hits||16||-||Gold|
|1984||You've Still Got a Place in My Heart||17||-||-|
|1984||First Time Live||45||-||-|
|1985||Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes?||6||-||-|
|1986||Wine Colored Roses||5||-||Gold|
|1987||Too Wild Too Long||14||-||-|
|1987||Super Hits||26||-||2× Multi-Platinum|
|1989||One Woman Man||13||-||-|
|1990||You Oughta Be Here with Me||35||-||-|
|1991||Friends in High Places||72||-||-|
|1991||And Along Came Jones||22||148||MCA||-|
|1992||Walls Can Fall||24||77||Gold|
|1993||High Tech Redneck||30||124||Gold|
|1993||Super Hits, Volume 2||-||-||Epic||-|
|1994||Bradley Barn Sessions (with various artists)||23||142||MCA||-|
|1995||George and Tammy Super Hits (with Tammy Wynette)||-||-||Epic||Gold|
|1995||One (with Tammy Wynette)||12||117||MCA||-|
|1996||I Lived to Tell It All||26||171||-|
|1998||It Don't Get Any Better Than This||37||-||-|
|1998||16 Biggest Hits||50||-||Epic||Gold|
|1999||Cold Hard Truth||5||53||Asylum||Gold|
|1999||Live With the Possum||72||-||-|
|2001||The Rock: Stone Cold Country 2001||5||65||Bandit||-|
|2003||The Gospel Collection||19||131||-|
|2004||50 Years Of Hits||20||118||Gold|
|2005||Hits I Missed… And One I Didn't||13||79||-|
|2006||God's Country: George Jones and Friends (with various artists)||58||-||Category 5||-|
|2006||Kicking Out the Footlights… Again (with Merle Haggard)||25||119||Bandit||-|
|2008||Burn Your Playhouse Down - The Unreleased Duets||15||79||-|
|2009||A Collection of My Best Recollection||22||88||Cracker Barrel||-|
|2010||The Great Lost Hits||52||-||Time Life||-|
Fourteen number-1 U.S. Country Hits
- "White Lightning" (1959)
- "Tender Years" (1961)
- "She Thinks I Still Care" (1962)
- "Walk Through This World With Me" (1967)
- "We're Gonna Hold On" (with Tammy Wynette) (1973)
- "The Grand Tour" (1974)
- "The Door" (1975)
- "Golden Ring" (with Tammy Wynette) (1976)
- "Near You" (with Tammy Wynette) (1977)
- "He Stopped Loving Her Today" (1980)
- "(I Was Country) When Country Wasn't Cool" (with Barbara Mandrell) (1981)
- "Still Doin' Time" (1981)
- "Yesterday's Wine" (with Merle Haggard) (1982)
- "I Always Get Lucky With You" (1983)
- Dawidoff, Nicholas. In The Country of Country: A Journey to the Roots of American Music. New York: Vintage Books, 1998, ISBN 0-375-70082-X.
- Jones, George, with Carter, Tom. I Lived to Tell it All. New York: Dell Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0-440-22373-3.
- Malone, Bill C. Country Music U.S.A.. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985, ISBN 0-292-71096-8.
All links retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Official Website georgejones.com
- At the Country Music Hall of Fame countrymusichalloffame.com