George Jones passed away today (April 26) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, after being hospitalized on April 18th with a fever and irregular blood pressure. Jones was 81.
The Country Music Hall of Famer, Grand Ole Opry member and Kennedy Center Honoree is a legend in the country community. His hits span over half a century and have been covered by countless country artists.
Jones got his start in Texas playing on the streets of Beaumont as a teenager. After a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps he returned to his home state and began recording music. His 1955 hit “Why Baby Why” became his first Top 10 country single which would be followed by more than 160 charting singles. To date, Jones has more charted singles than any other artist in any genre of music.
“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,” Bob Allen wrote in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Encyclopedia of Country Music.
“White Lightning” was his first No. 1 hit in 1959 and a slew followed. These included “We’re Gonna Hold On,” “Golden Ring,” and “Near You,” all recorded with then-wife Tammy Wynette, as well as “Yesterday’s Wine” with Merle Haggard and the ever-popular 1980 hit “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
The two-time GRAMMY nominated singer’s life wasn’t all hits though; he struggled, publicly, with substance abuse. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Nancy Jones, his sister Helen Scroggins, and by his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.