George Jones, known as “the greatest voice in country music,” died today at a Nashville Hospital after being hospitalized last week with a fever and irregular blood pressure, his publicist said today. He was 81 years old. “The world has lost the greatest country singer of all time,” his friend Merle Haggard said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “Amen.”
Born in Saratoga, Texas into an extremely poor household, Jones went on to 143 Top 40 country hits; fourteen went to Number One, beginning with 1959’s “White Lightning,” and they continued through the decades including “She Thinks I Still Care” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Sinatra called him “the second greatest singer in America” (second only to himself) while Keith Richards calls him “a national treasure.” “If we all could sound like we wanted to, we’d all sound like George Jones,” Waylon Jennings once sang.
“Most people’s voices are a gift from God,” Garth Brooks once said. “With George Jones, I think it started out as a gift from God and then they built a body around it because anybody who has ever wanted to sing country music wants to sound like George Jones.”
* Here’s one from last year with George, Jamey Johnson and Blackberry Smoke singing “Yesterday’s Wine”…
You give the appearence
Of one widely travelled
I’ll bet you’ve seen
Things in your time