Country music legend George Jones has died in hospital at the age of 81. Generally regarded as one of the all time great voices of country music, his influence could be heard in the music of stars like Vince Gill, Randy Travis, Garth Brooks, and Dwight Yoakam to name a few.
Jones battled drug and alcohol abuse throughout his life, earning the nickname “No-Show Jones” for missing shows and recording sessions due to his personal problems. Married four times, including six years with Tammy Wynette, Jones’ life was full of turmoil and heart break, much of which he turned into song.
Born in east Texas in 1931, Jones taught himself guitar and songwriting at an early age. He spent 1950 to 1953 in the Marines. Leaving the service, he signed his first record deal in 1954, releasing the song “No Money in This Deal.” He had his first hit, “Why Baby Why,” in 1955, and began singing at the famed Grand Ole Opry in 1956.
Famous for his excesses, recording his #1 hit “White Lightning,” took 83 takes because he was drinking through the session. After his divorce from Wynette in 1975, Jones sunk deeper into depression and abuse, dropping 50 lbs. In 1979 he missed 54 concert dates due to his excessive behaviour, and when he did show up, would sometimes sing in a Donald Duck voice.
Nevertheless, Jones survived despite his demons, and continued to tour, sometimes with Wynette, with whom he had recorded numerous duets over the years. As late as 1999, Jones was performing 150 shows a year.
In 2012, he received a lifetime achievement Grammy Award. Jones is survived by his 4th wife, and manager, Nancy Sepulveda, his sister Helen Scroggins, and his children and grandchildren.