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George Jones

George Jones

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George Glenn Jones is an American country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 singer known for his long list of hit records, his distinctive voice and phrasing, and his marriage to Tammy Wynette
Tammy Wynette
Virginia Wynette Pugh, known professionally as Tammy Wynette , was an American country music singer-songwriter and one of the genre's best-known artists and biggest-selling female vocalists....


Over the past 20 years, Jones has frequently been referred to as "the greatest living country singer." Country music scholar Bill C. Malone
Bill Malone
Bill C. Malone is an American historian specializing in country music and other forms of traditional American music. He is the author of the 1968 book Country Music, U.S.A., the first definitive academic history of country music...

 writes, "For the two or three minutes consumed by a song, Jones immerses himself so completely in its lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

, and in the mood it conveys, that the listener can scarcely avoid becoming similarly involved."

Throughout his long career, Jones made headlines often as much for tales of his drinking, stormy relationships with women, and violent rages as for his prolific career of making records and touring. His wild lifestyle led to Jones missing many performances, earning him the nickname "No Show Jones." With the help of his fourth wife, Nancy, he has been sober for many years. Jones has had more than 150 hits during his career, both as a solo artist and in duets with other artists. The shape of his nose and facial features have given Jones the nickname "The Possum." Jones said in an interview that he has chosen to tour only about 60 dates a year.

Early life

George Glenn Jones was born on September 12, 1931 in Saratoga, Texas
Saratoga, Texas
Saratoga is an unincorporated community in Hardin County, Texas, United States. It is located thirty-eight miles northwest of Beaumont. The zip code is 77585.Saratoga is part of the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area....

, and was raised in Vidor, Texas
Vidor, Texas
Vidor is a city in western Orange County, Texas, United States. A city of Southeast Texas, it lies at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Farm to Market Road 105, six miles east of Beaumont. The town is mainly a bedroom community for the nearby refining complexes in Beaumont and Port Arthur and...

, with his brother and five sisters. When he was seven, his parents bought a radio and he heard country music for the first time. Given a guitar when he was nine, Jones was soon busking for money on the streets of Beaumont.

He left home at 16 and went to Jasper, Texas
Jasper, Texas
Jasper is the county seat of Jasper County, Texas, in the United States. The population was 8,247 at the 2000 census. Jasper is situated in the Deep East Texas subregion, about northeast of Houston. The city is best known for the 1998 murder of James Byrd, Jr., an event which gained national...

, where he sang and played on the radio station. He married his wife Dorothy when he was 19, but they divorced within a year. The Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 was underway, and he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

. He was stationed in California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 for his entire service. Not long after his discharge, his music career took off.

The wild years

Jones's alcoholism was legendary. One of the best known stories of Jones' drinking days happened when he was married to his second wife, Shirley Corley:
In her 1979 autobiography, former wife Tammy Wynette
Tammy Wynette
Virginia Wynette Pugh, known professionally as Tammy Wynette , was an American country music singer-songwriter and one of the genre's best-known artists and biggest-selling female vocalists....

 recalled waking at 1 AM to find her husband gone:
Jones later jokingly sang of the lawn mower incident in his 1996 single "Honky Tonk Song
I Lived to Tell It All
I Lived to Tell It All is an album by country music artist George Jones This album was released on August 13, 1996 on the MCA Nashville Records label. This was also a companion piece to his best-selling autobiography of the same name, I Lived to Tell It All.-Track listing:#"Honky Tonk Song" I Lived...

", and parodied his arrest in the music video.

In the 1970s, a manager introduced Jones to cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 before a show, because he was too tired to perform. His self-destructive behavior brought him close to death and he was in an Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

  psychiatric hospital
Psychiatric hospital
Psychiatric hospitals, also known as mental hospitals, are hospitals specializing in the treatment of serious mental disorders. Psychiatric hospitals vary widely in their size and grading. Some hospitals may specialise only in short-term or outpatient therapy for low-risk patients...

 by the end of the decade. Celebrated by some of his fans as the hard-drinkin', fast-livin' spiritual-son of his idol, Hank Williams, Jones missed so many engagements that he gained the nickname of "No-Show Jones." (The song "No-Show Jones" makes fun of Jones and other country singers.) He was often penniless and admits that Waylon Jennings
Waylon Jennings
Waylon Arnold Jennings was an American country music singer, songwriter, and musician. Jennings began playing at eight. He began performing at twelve, on KVOW radio. Jennings formed a band The Texas Longhorns. Jennings worked as a D.J on KVOW, KDAV and KLLL...

 and Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash
John R. "Johnny" Cash was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author, who has been called one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century...

 came to his financial aid during this time.

Poking fun at his past, three country music videos would feature Jones arriving on a riding lawn mower. The first was Hank Williams, Jr's
Hank Williams, Jr.
Randall Hank Williams , better known as Hank Williams, Jr. and Bocephus, is an American country singer-songwriter and musician. His musical style is often considered a blend of Southern rock, blues, and traditional country...

 "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" in 1984 while the second was Vince Gill's
Vince Gill
Vincent Grant "Vince" Gill is an American neotraditional country singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He has achieved commercial success and fame both as frontman to the country rock band Pure Prairie League in the 1970s, and as a solo artist beginning in 1983, where his talents as a...

 "One More Last Chance
One More Last Chance
"One More Last Chance" is the title of a song recorded by American country music singer Vince Gill. Gill co-wrote the song with Gary Nicholson. It was released in July 1993 as the fourth single from his CD, I Still Believe in You...

" in 1993. Gill's song mentioned the mower with the lines "She might have took my car keys, but she forgot about my old John Deere." At the end of Gill's video, he is leaving the golf course on a John Deere tractor and greets Jones with "Hey, possum." Jones, arriving at the golf course driving a John Deere riding lawn mower with a set of golf clubs mounted behind him, replies to Gill "Hey, sweet pea." The third is John Rich's "Country Done Come to Town" and shows George mowing grass on the rooftop on a zero turn mower.


Jones was married twice before he was 24. His 1950 marriage to Dorothy Bonvillion lasted a year, but they had a daughter, Susan. In 1954, Jones married Shirley Ann Corley. This marriage lasted until 1968 and produced two sons, Jeffrey and Bryan. He married Tammy Wynette
Tammy Wynette
Virginia Wynette Pugh, known professionally as Tammy Wynette , was an American country music singer-songwriter and one of the genre's best-known artists and biggest-selling female vocalists....

 in 1969. They stayed married for six years and had a daughter, Tamala Georgette. As Georgette Jones, she is a country singer and has performed on stage with her father. Jones married his current wife, Nancy Sepulvado, on March 4, 1983 in Woodville, Texas
Woodville, Texas
Woodville is a town in Tyler County, Texas, United States. The town is intersected by three U.S. highways: U.S. Highway 69, U.S. Highway 190, and U.S. Highway 287. The population was 2,415 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Tyler County...

. Nancy became his manager. Jones credits his wife Nancy for rescuing him from drinking and cocaine. They now live in Franklin, Tennessee
Franklin, Tennessee
Franklin is a city within and the county seat of Williamson County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 62,487 as of the 2010 census Franklin is located approximately south of downtown Nashville.-History:...



  • Dorothy Bonvillion (1950 – 1951) (divorced) 1 daughter
  • Shirley Ann Corley (September 14, 1954 – June 11, 1968) (divorced) 2 sons
  • Tammy Wynette
    Tammy Wynette
    Virginia Wynette Pugh, known professionally as Tammy Wynette , was an American country music singer-songwriter and one of the genre's best-known artists and biggest-selling female vocalists....

     (February 16, 1969 – March 13, 1975) (divorced) 1 daughter
  • Nancy Sepulvado (March 4, 1983 – present)

Awards and honors

Jones has received many awards during his long career, from Most Promising New Country Vocalist in 1956, being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, and being named a Kennedy Center Honoree
Kennedy Center Honors
The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The Honors have been presented annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C., during gala weekend-long events which culminate in a performance for—and...

 in 2008.

He served as judge in 2008 for the 8th annual Independent Music Awards
The Independent Music Awards
The Independent Music Awards is an international program that honors top-ranked independent artists and releases in more than 50 Album, Song, Music Video and Design categories....

 to support independent artists' careers.

Number one country hits

  1. "White Lightning
    White Lightning (George Jones song)
    "White Lightning" is the title of a song written by the rockabilly artist J. P. Richardson, best known by his stage name, The Big Bopper. The song was recorded by American country music artist George Jones and released as a single in February 1959. On April 13, 1959, Jones' version became the first...

    " (1959)
  2. "Tender Years
    Tender Years
    "Tender Years" is the title of a song written by Darrell Edwards and recorded by American country music artist George Jones. The song was George Jones second number one on the country chart where it spent seven non consecutive weeks at the top and a total of thirty-two weeks on the country chart...

    " (1961)
  3. "She Thinks I Still Care
    She Thinks I Still Care
    "She Thinks I Still Care" is a song written by Dickey Lee and Steve Duffy which became the third C&W #1 hit for George Jones, spending six weeks at #1 in the spring/summer of 1962...

    " (1962)
  4. "Walk Through This World With Me" (1967)
  5. "We're Gonna Hold On" (with Tammy Wynette
    Tammy Wynette
    Virginia Wynette Pugh, known professionally as Tammy Wynette , was an American country music singer-songwriter and one of the genre's best-known artists and biggest-selling female vocalists....

    ) (1973)
  6. "The Grand Tour" (1974)
  7. "The Door" (1975)
  8. "Golden Ring" (with Tammy Wynette) (1976)
  9. "Near You" (with Tammy Wynette) (1977)
  10. "He Stopped Loving Her Today
    He Stopped Loving Her Today
    "He Stopped Loving Her Today" is the title of a song by American country music artist George Jones that has been named in several surveys as the greatest country song of all time. It was released in April 1980 as the lead single from the album I Am What I Am. The song was Jones's first No. 1 single...

    " (1980)
  11. "(I Was Country) When Country Wasn't Cool" (with Barbara Mandrell
    Barbara Mandrell
    Barbara Ann Mandrell is an American country music singer best known for a 1970s–1980s series of Top 10 hits and TV shows that helped her become one of country's most successful female vocalists of the 1970s and 1980s...

    ) (1981)
  12. "Still Doin' Time
    Still Doin' Time
    "Still Doin' Time" is a 1981 single written by John Moffatt and Michael P. Heeney and recorded by George Jones. "Still Doin' Time" would be George Jones' eight number one country single as a solo artist. The single stayed at number one for one week and spent a total of ten weeks on the chart...

    " (1981)
  13. "Yesterday's Wine" (with Merle Haggard
    Merle Haggard
    Merle Ronald Haggard is an American country music singer, guitarist, fiddler, instrumentalist, and songwriter. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster guitars, vocal harmonies,...

    ) (1982)
  14. "I Always Get Lucky With You" (1983)

See also

  • Academy of Country Music
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

  • List of country musicians
  • Country Music Association
    Country Music Association
    The Country Music Association was founded in 1958 in Nashville, Tennessee. It originally consisted of only 233 members and was the first trade organization formed to promote a music genre...

  • List of best-selling music artists
  • Inductees of the Country Music Hall of Fame
    Inductees of the Country Music Hall of Fame
    This is a list of inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame.Number of Inductees : 115 . Of these 15 are women and two are groups that include...

     (1992 inductee)

Further reading

  • I Lived to Tell it All, George Jones with Tom Carter, Dell Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0-440-22373-3
  • In The Country of Country: A Journey to the Roots of American Music, Nicholas Dawidoff, Vintage Books, 1998, ISBN 0-375-70082-X
  • Country Music U.S.A., Bill C. Malone, University of Texas Press, 1985, ISBN 0-292-71096-8
  • Joel Whitburn's Top Country Songs, 1944 to 2005, Record Research, Inc., Menomonee Falls, WS, 2005, ISBN 0-89820-165-9

External links