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RIP George Jones, Country Music Legend
April 26, 2013
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One of the greatest music stars who ever lived, legendary country singer George Jones has died. He was 81.

In a career that lasted more than 50 years, Jones is considered among the most influential singers in modern American history.

He was admired not only by country performers, but by stars from all walks of music - including Pete Townshend, Elvis Costello, James Taylor and Frank Sinatra, who famously called Jones "the second best singer in America".

Jones had number one hits in five different decades from the 1950s to the 1990s, recorded more than 150 albums, and had more than 160 charting singles - more than any other artist in any style of popular music.

Jones was a throwback to the traditional days of country music - a hard living, outlaw kind of guy, who sang about good times, sad times and regrets.

"A singer who can soar from a deep growl to dizzying heights, he is the undisputed successor of earlier natural geniuses such as Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell," wrote Bob Allen in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's 'Encyclopedia of Country Music'.

Here's Jones in Canada on the Ronnie Prophet show, performing his classic hit 'He Stopped Loving Her Today'.

Some of his other hits included 'She Thinks I Still Care', 'The Race Is On', 'A Good Year for the Roses', 'The Grand Tour', 'Walk Through This World With Me', 'Tender Years' and 'Bartenders Blues'.

Jones is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry and in 2008, he received America's highest arts award - the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement.

Jones was born in Saratoga, Texas, in 1931. As a teenager, he played on the streets of Beaumont for change and went on to serve three years with the U.S. Marines.

Eventually, he went to Houston and in 1955, he had his first Top 10 country single 'Why Baby Why', which went to number four. In 1959, he had his first number one hit - 'White Lightning'.

In the '70s, Jones had several duet hits with his then-wife, country legend Tammy Wynette, including 'We're Gonna Hold On,' 'Golden Ring', and 'Near You'.

But he and Wynette divorced, as Jones struggled with addiction - earning the nickname "No Show" Jones for the performances he missed.

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George Jones & Tammy Wynette

He turned his career around in 1980 with 'He Stopped Loving Her Today', which earned him a Grammy for best male country vocal performance and several other awards.

Just to give you an idea of his influence, here's Elvis Costello covering Jones' hit 'A Good Year for the Roses'.

In 1983, Jones married his 4th wife Nancy Ford Sepulvado - his partner of 30 years, who he always said saved his life after years of drug and alcohol abuse.

As Andrew Dansby of chron.com writes, "Jones lived as hard as the songs he sang, a dedicated drinker and tempestuous partner who was married four times, finally finding redemption and lasting love in his final decades.

He also seemed to have more lives than a cat, surviving alcoholism, drug addiction, divorce, relapses, car crashes, squandered fortunes and all the requisite bumps of a fabled ride through fame."

In the late 90s, he scored his last Top 20 country hit when he was featured on Patty Loveless' song 'You Don't Seem To Miss Me'.

In 1999, Jones nearly died in a car accident, but he recovered and started touring and recording again. He played hundreds of shows in the 2000s, announcing his farewell tour late last year - which was supposed to end this November in Nashville.

A who's who of country music, including Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels, Kenny Rogers, Sam Moore, The Oak Ridge Boys and many others were due to perform at Jones' final show.

Jones died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, after being hospitalized last week with a fever and irregular blood pressure.

via The Associated Press

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