Country music legend George Jones was born in a log cabin in the small town of Saratoga, Texas, in an area known as "The Big Thicket." He was inspired by both of his parents: his father George Washington Jones played the guitar, and him mother Clara played piano. At age nine they bought him his very first guitar.
With his first guitar, started playing at social events and at church. Singing wherever he could, he could be found on street corners playing for tips like many aspiring musicians today. It was here on the streets of Texas that George got his start.
George had a rocky start in life and by the age of 24 had served in the Marines, been married twice and had already mastered the Texas world of honky-tonk bars throughout the state. In his early years George tried to sing like his idols, Hank Williams, Roy Acuff and Lefty Frizzell, but in 1955 his producer Pappy Dailey persuaded him to sing like himself. The result was his first hit song: "Why Baby Why."
Back in the 1950s George Jones sang the "Hits of the Day" on radio shows. This is where George got the opportunity to meet one of his heroes, Hank Williams, and play his guitar for him.
He has been married four times. In 1969, less than a year after divorcing his second wife, Shirley, he married the singer Tammy Wynette. After many separations and revivals of their marriage, George and Tammy finally divorced in 1975, but they still performed together.
After many invites, George finally joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1969.
The 1970s were very dark years for George Jones. In 1970 he parted with his producer/manager Pappy Dailey and started working with Tammy's producer at Epic Records, Billy Sherrill. His behavior took a dramatic dive, with many episodes of heavy drinking, drug use, shooting at friends and questions of physical spouse abuse. He earned the name "No-Show Jones" as his missed well over 50 performances. George appeared to be living the legend of his outlaw songs.
In 1980, Jones won for Single of the Year at the Country Music Association awards for his song "He Stopped Loving Her Today
," which set the stage for his comeback. He also won the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, as the song stayed at #1 on the charts for 18 weeks.
Jones was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame by MCA Nashville President Tony Brown in 1992.
In 1995, 20 years after their divorce, George and his ex-wife Tammy Wynette released a CD together titled One and also toured together. In 1998, Tammy died at age 55 after a series of health problems.
By 1996, Jones had lots of tales to tell, which he did in his book I Lived to Tell It All, which reached #6 on the Best Sellers List. He also released a CD with that title to accompany the book.
Jones had 168 songs that made the Country charts in his lifetime, counting his solo efforts and duets. He appeared on more charting singles than any other country singer.
The most notorious George Jones incident happened when he was married to his second wife Shirley. It seems Shirley took away the keys to his truck because George had been drinking for several days in a row. The nearest liquor store was about eight miles away, and George made the trip in about 90 minutes on the mower.
According to Tammy Wynette, he tried it again with her, taking a lawnmower ride to a local bar. She woke up about 1 a.m. to find her husband gone, and when she drove to the bar, there was the mover parked in front. This time, he even drove the mower on the highway.
George used the "lawn mower incident" jokingly in his 1996 release of the single "Honky-Tonk Song" as well as the music video where he showed an arrest for driving intoxicated, on a lawn mower. It looks like the arrest is poetic license, as in both incidents, Jones appeared to succeed in his creative quest for alcohol.
Jones was awarded the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors on December 7, 2008, which was hosted by President Bush and Mrs. Bush, which was taped in Washington, DC, and aired on December 30, 2008 on CBS.
George's 168th and last chart appearance of his lifetime was on Aaron Lewis
' "Country Boy
" where he was a featured vocalist. It reached #50 on the Country chart in 2011.
Jones had a posthumous hit the week after his death in April 2013 when "He Stopped Loving Her Today
" re-entered the country chart at #21.
George Jones passed away of acute hypoxia at the age of 81 on April 26, 2013. He'd been admitted to hospital with a fever and irregular blood pressure a week earlier.
George Jones' fourth wife, Nancy Jones, revealed during the 2013 CMA Fest her husband's last words. "'Hi ya. I've been looking for you. I'm George Jones,'" she recalled her husband saying, before adding poignantly, "I believe he was introducing himself to God."
George Jones' nickname of "The Possum" arose from the shape of his nose and facial features.
George Jones is the only artist to appear on the Country chart in every decade up to and including the 2010s, since the list launched as a multi-metric survey on October 20, 1958.
George Jones married his fourth and final wife Nancy Sepulvado on March 4, 1983. They first met on a blind date in November 1981. The ceremony took place at the home of Jones' sister, Helen Scroggins, in Woodville, Texas. They remained together until his death in 2013.
He left Epic Records after 19 years when the label failed to promote his 1990 album, You Oughta Be Here With Me. When he signed with MCA, he also left behind his longtime producer, Billy Sherrill.