"If we could all sing like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones."
George Glenn Jones (1931-2013) was, to say the least, one of the
most important Country Music
singers of all time. Active from the early fifties
to his death in 2013, he has had an incredibly fruitful career that includes nearly 170 single releases in all. He is widely regarded as one of the most skilled and distinctive vocalists in country music history, and is considered by many country music artists and scholars to be the greatest ever. Among all of his songs, "He Stopped Loving Her Today", a song written about his break-up with Tammy Wynette, is often cited as the best country music song of all time (ironically, its only real competition is "Stand By Your Man" a song written and performed by Tammy Wynette, who was married to Jones at the time, and wrote the song about
her relationship with Jones) and others such as "A Good Year for the Roses" and "The Grand Tour" have attained legendary status in country music canon.
Jones first recorded for Starday Records in the 1950s, followed by stints on Mercury, United Artists
and Musicor. He was no stranger to the troubles that often plagued A-list musicians in his time, either. By 1968, he began drinking heavily and missing shows. His marriage broke up, but he soon wed fellow singer Tammy Wynette, with whom he would record a large number of duets. A dispute over the label's rights regarding duets between the two led to him jumping ship for Wynette's label, Epic Records
, where he would stay from 1971 until 1990.
This change in labels also shifted him to a more ballad-oriented sound, with which he would stick. After he and Wynette divorced, Jones started hitting the bottle and cocaine, causing him to miss more shows and earn the Fan Nickname
"No-Show Jones." He went to rehab, but it didn't do much until 1983; nonetheless, the hits kept coming until the end of the decade. By 1990, a switch to MCA brought a couple of critically-acclaimed albums but no hits. By the time he moved to Asylum Records in the end of the decade, his traditional sound was highly out of favor against the crossover-happy sound still present today. Nonetheless, Jones left a massive influences on the neotraditionalist acts of the eighties, and his songs are widely recorded to this day. In terms of influence and lasting impact, he is arguably the second most important male country artist after Hank Williams
(although you could make an equally strong case for a few others like Johnny Cash
and Merle Haggard
George Jones passed away on April 26, 2013 after being hospitalized for over a week for a fever and irregular blood pressure.
- Advertised Extra: On Shooter Jennings' "4th of July" — he sang a few bars of "He Stopped Loving Her Today" at the end, and still received chart credit despite his part being cut out of the radio edit.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: At times when he was high. He once famously announced at the beginning of a set: "My friends, Deedoodle the duck is going to sing for you tonight, because Deedoodle can do what George Jones can't." He proceeded to sing the entire concert in a Donald Duck voice.
- Long Runner: Around 60 years.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: "I Don't Need Your Rocking Chair" had Vince Gill, Mark Chesnutt, Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Joe Diffie, Alan Jackson, Pam Tillis, T. Graham Brown, Patty Loveless, and Clint Black participating in a call-and-response at the end.
- Refrain from Assuming: No, it's not "Hotter Than a Two-Dollar Pistol." It's "The One I Loved Back Then (The Corvette Song)."
- Retirony: In August 2012, he announced he planned on retiring after going on one final tour in 2013. On April 26, 2013, he died after being hospitalized for over a week for a fever and irregular heartbeat.
- Sound Effect Bleep: "Her Name Is..." uses notes on a clavinet to self-censor ("Her name is [note note note] / Her eyes are [note]..."). Longtime producer Billy Sherrill has often said the blanks referred to ex-wife Tammy Wynette.
- Technology Marches On: "High-Tech Redneck" falls victim to this. Released in 1993, the song lists off the numerous ways the titular redneck employs then-state-of-the-art technology to further his hillbilly lifestyle, including watching sports on his big-screen TV with stereo sound, listening to country music via cassette (already outdated, as CDs had outstripped cassette sales by that time), and calling up his baby on his cellular phone.
- Vocal Decay: Sadly, age and decades of drug abuse resulted in this. To be fair, he also had to learn to sing again after having throat surgery, and lost the lower end of his range after quitting smoking in 1999.