Considered as “the king of country music,” George Jones is also known as “the greatest voice in country music.”
Upon Jones’ death in 2013, Merle Haggard said,
“The world has lost the greatest country singer of all time.”
On the other hand, Frank Sinatra called him
“the second greatest singer in America” (second only to himself)
while Keith Richards calls him
“a national treasure”
In one of his songs, Waylon Jennings also sang
“…if we all could sound like we wanted to, we’d all sound like George Jones…”
Indeed, these are just some of the many artists who have proven that George Jones is definitely one of the greatest country artists of all time. Today, April 26th marks Jones’ death anniversary. In 2013, he shocked the world especially country music fans with his passing. He may have left us, but still, his music will forever be played and remembered.
The “King of Country Music” was born
A native of Saratoga, Texas, George Glenn Jones, also popularly known as The Possum, was born on September 12, 1931. He was raised in an extremely poor household. Upon his delivery, one of the doctors dropped him and broke his arm. At the age of seven, his parents bought a radio and that was the first time Jones heard country music. At 9 years old, he acquired his first guitar.
In one of his interviews in 2006, Jones recalled that every Saturday nights, he would lie in bed with his parents and listen to the Grand Ole Opry. He would always find time to listen to Roy Acuff and Bill Monroe. He would tell his mother to wake him up if ever he fell asleep so he could listen to them.
George continued to be hooked into country music and became one of the greatest stars. He then went on to amass 143 Top 40 country hits, 14 of which are no. 1.
The Possum, No Show Jones
Most of the time, many consider George Jones as the king of country music, the greatest voice in country music, and the like. However, there are two more names that Jones is used to be called and he personally liked it. His nicknames, The Possum and No Show Jones, are the two of his sobriquets that marked in people’s minds when thinking about him.
Jones recalled T. Tommy Cutrer and Ralph Emery the first to call him The Possum. He stated,
“I had an album out with a side view of me with a crew cut. I was very young, and my nose looked more turned up, and I’ve got little beady eyes so I guess I did look like a possum! So they both laid into me and called me ‘Possum,’ and it got everywhere. There was no way I could stop that, so (I thought) I’ll just have to live with that!”
No Show Jones
This nickname got stuck with Jones for many years. This name came about due to his failure to show up in many of his concerts. In a sad note, he admitted that he had become dependent on drugs and that he let it overshadow his career.
“I think about the dates that I missed, and I’ll see those mamas and daddies and some grandkids walking down the old country dirt road … walking to town maybe a mile, and they’ve been saving their money for a couple months just to get there and to be let down … I guess that hurts me worse than anything else. ‘No Show Jones’ — I never did like that, but I played around with it with a song … made peace with it. I didn’t think I’d ever live it down, but it’s gotten so much better. Nobody calls me ‘No Show’ any more.”
His Legacy and Death
George Jones is known for his hits that stormed the charts during his time. He Stopped Loving Her Today, Finally Friday, White Lightin’, Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes, and She Thinks I Still Care are just some of the many hits that boosted his career. Other than that, his other notable songs are a duet with his ex-wife, Tammy Wynette. We’re Gonna Hold On, Golden Ring, Near You, Two-Story House, and The Ceremony are just some of their best duets.
Jones never lost his ability to deliver heartbreaking country classics. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2008. Furthermore, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
On April 26, 2013, George Jones died after being hospitalized with fever and irregular blood pressure according to his publicist. He was 81 years old. A funeral service was held on May 2, 2013, at the Grand Ole Opry House.
In a tribute, Garth Brooks said,
“Most people’s voices are a gift from God. With George Jones, I think it started out as a gift from God and then they built a body around it because anybody who has ever wanted to sing country music wants to sound like George Jones.”
Here’s one of the most loved songs of The Possum. This is a live performance of George Jones in one of his concerts in Canada. Watch it again as we remember his best of country music.
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