BREAKING: George Jones Passes Away

Juli Thanki | April 26th, 2013

The Tennessean reports that George Jones passed away this morning at the age of 81. He had been hospitalized since April 18.


  1. Janice Brooks
    April 26, 2013 at 10:38 am

    George Jones passing means a sad week ahead for Music City, Texas and the world. Seeing a few condolences from Bluegrass folks.

  2. Razor X
    April 26, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Rest in peace, Possum.

  3. TX Music Jim
    April 26, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Simply the best that ever lived or ever will live. Real country music has lost it’s ultimate singer. RIP George. You loss is immeasurable but you leagecy will live on forever.

  4. Bruce
    April 26, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Quote from a new’s article:

    Asked about what he thought about Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and other young stars, Jones said they were good but they weren’t making traditional country music.

    “What they need to do really, I think, is find their own title,” he said.

    The “Possum”. Purist. Perfection.

    As was said of Connie Smith by Dolly Parton, “”You know, there’s really only three female singers in the world: Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, and Connie Smith. The rest of us are only pretending”.

    I think the same thing could be said for George Jones. For many male singers today (Aldean, Bryan, et all) they are, in my humble opinion, but a pipmle on Jones’ ass.

  5. Bruce
    April 26, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Correction – “pimple”

  6. Jonathan Pappalardo
    April 26, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    The perfect song and video. It’s completely idiotic to think anyone could fill Jones’ shoes, a legacy almost too big even for him to live up to.

    I remember watching the CMA awards when Alan Jackson cut his cover of “Pop A Top” short in order to sing “Choices.” What a classy move on Alan’s part.

    IMO, George’s passing is the most significant death in CM since Johnny Cash about ten years ago. Today is a sad, sad, day.

  7. Jon
    April 26, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Jones wasn’t a “purist” when he was part of a generation of artists who pushed an earlier “traditional country” generation off the airwaves and record labels. And he wasn’t a “purist” or cutting “traditional country” when he was recording with string sections – in fact, he was reviled by “purists” for “selling out” and “going pop.” As a country singer, he was great beyond words; as a country music historian, theoretician, or just as a reflective and self-aware country artist, not so much.

    Johnny Cash’s death was more significant than Jones’s for the music world as a whole, but I believe that Jones’s passing is more significant to country music than Cash’s was. Sure, plenty of folks did bad Johnny Cash impersonations, plenty had those middle-finger salute posters on their walls and plenty were happy to try on a bit of that man-in-black “outlaw” pose, but Jones was more deeply influential on several generations of country singers than Cash ever was.

  8. Rick
    April 26, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    I’m sorry to hear of George’s passing. I’ve never been much of a George Jones fan as I didn’t care for his singing voice. Growing up in the 60’s listening to mostly artists like Merle, Johnny, Buck, Eddy Arnold and Marty Robbins left me preferring stong, clear male singing voices. George did record some of the greatest country songs of all time, but apart from a “Greatist Hits” type collection I was never interested in buying any of his albums. George’s music has never made much of an impact on me personally, not even all of the fine duets he recorded. Oh well…

  9. Barry Mazor
    April 26, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Well thanks for pointing that out, Rick. We’re beholden to you.

    In a way.

  10. Fervor Coulee
    April 26, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    “stong, clear male singing voices”

    What the ?

    Not sure what the purpose of this post was. I didn’t much care for the guy’s singing, and I thought you all should know that.

    A Styx Tommy Shaw song comes to mind.

  11. BRUCE
    April 26, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Jones WAS a purist in the context of his own generation. He pretty much stuck with what he was. One would have to go back to the very genesis of country music to define John’s description of a purist, which by the way is not wrong. Any deviation from an original is by the very definition non-purist.

    Those that were before George were probably reviled by yet an older generation than them no doubt.

    Having said that, there seems to be quite a leap in the direction of country music today. Although George may have had an essence of country in his approach, the “beer, butts, and bra” crap of today has little if any essence of country. There is seemingly no link whatsoever to the past – in my humble non-critical opinion.

    John’s comments about Johnny Cash and George’s death and influence I totally agree with and very well said.

  12. Reagan
    April 26, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    I went to see Alan tonight, and he started his set with a cold open of “He Stopped Loving Her Today” as pictures of Jackson and the Possum flashed on the screen behind him. Alan fought back tears, his voice cracking, and I’ve gotta say — that was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen live. Absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking. God bless Alan Jackson, and RIP, Possum. You will be dearly missed.

    • Juli Thanki
      April 27, 2013 at 9:03 am

      Thanks for sharing, Reagan. That sounds like a lovely tribute.

  13. Leeann Ward
    April 26, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    It sounds like that was a very special moment.

  14. Luckyoldsun
    April 28, 2013 at 12:41 am

    OK EVERYBODY–What’s the record that turned you on to Jones?

    Oddly enough, when I first started listening to country radio, Jones’ then-current hit was a single called “The Bird.” It was actually a cleverly written song about a talking parakeet outing the cheating Jones to his woman–all for the purpose of setting up the immortal chorus lines: “The last thing I gave her was the Bird–and she returned the favor with a few selected words.” I feel like I’ve seen a video of the song, though I never did. It was just Jones’ vocal that gave a cinematic touch to the white-trash vignette in the lyric–thrown objects, screeching tires and all–and brought it to life.

    I bought the CD–“Too Wild Too Long”–that had that song–and it’s a good thing I did, because for some reason “The Bird” never turned up on anywhere else, like on those multi-disc “Essential” Jones anthologies that I later bought.

  15. Thomas
    April 28, 2013 at 5:56 am

    …interestingly enough, luckyoldson, it was a duet by merle haggard and george jones about “no show jones” that caught my attention in the first place. the self-irony he showed in that record intrigued me more than anything. the rest was a great discovery story and i’m still not nearly through with it.

    finally, god was brave enough to take him away from us. then again, he has sent us the janedear girls. his usual mysterious ways stuff.

  16. Paul W Dennis
    April 28, 2013 at 10:37 am

    It seems George Jones was always there. I rember hearing “White Lightning”, “You Gotta Be My Baby” and “Who Shot Sam” during the 1950s. I still remember the George Jones album I purchased. It was titled HITS BY GEORGE and was on the Musicor label. Turns out it was an album of remakes of songs previously recorded for Mercury and United Artists. THey weren’t the originals I remembered on the radio but it ws still a great album

  17. Arlene
    April 28, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    @ Jonathan, Jon and Bruce- I hate rank-ordering the significance or influence of artists, but I’m amazed by how many people I know who either never heard of George Jones, or knew the name but never heard him sing. I suspect that for the music world as a whole, or at least the general public, Earl Scruggs’s death– in addition to Johnny Cash’s– had greater significance than George Jones’s. And this is so even though, ordinarily, I don’t think of bluegrass music as having greater influence or popularity than “traditional” country music.

    @Luckyoldsun- “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” I remember thinking when I first heard it that when it comes to communicating pain and anguish, even Billie Holiday has nothing on George Jones.

  18. J.R. Journey
    April 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Like Paul Dennis said, I remember George Jones’ music being played all my life. I was only a casual fan until I bought Live with the Possum (in 2000-2001?). It’s a short live album – only eleven tracks – but it was really my introduction to the man’s great catalog. And it was because of that album that I just had to see Jones in concert – and I did, four times.

  19. Barry Mazor
    April 28, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    The country artists who have had considerable impact in the “mainstream” pop, rock or folk circles followed by the post-college public will always have more resonance, virtually the only resonance, with those people, than anyone who was top of the heap in country but didn’t try to sell outside the lines, or have a style that works to do appeal to their sensibilities. )In other words, country artists who seem most like folk, rock, pop, etc.)

    They didn’t know who Porter was when he died either. Earl, Cash, Patsy, Dolly, Loretta and Hank “Senior” are all there is and, oh, they then get to Emmylou and maybe Gram real fast, and that’s it for country. It’s still very difficult to discuss the greatest country artists who aren’t any of those people in general media, “because we’ve never heard of them”–which is, of course, about who “we” is, not about the importance and quality of the artists.

    And if that common “George who?” Arlene’s talking about (and she’s right; that’s out there) doesn’t tell that story, then what does. (In his ca se, they sometimes know him as the caricature form George and Tammy National Enquirer stories, which doesn’t exactly tell you about his art either.) At least there have been mainstream obits. I say all this as someone who work to cover country in mainstream media, fighting the fight that says “No, it’s not “high fallutin’ ” to treat country artists with respect and applied intelligence, as they are, to reach more people without pandering to their prejudices.

  20. Luckyoldsun
    April 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I see your point, but I think George Jones did, in fact, manage to break out of the country “ghetto” and into the mainstream culture, by dint of his talents and his embrace by pop-rock artists like James Taylor and Elvis Costello. He got a truckload of mainstream honors and awards and his death was covered prominently on all the mainstream news sites and received a p.1 obit in the New York Times–with just about a full page inside.

    To the extent that Jones didn’t break through even further, I think a lot of it was his own doing. He did not project the personality or worldliness or have interesting things to say that would have gotten him the kind network TV exposure that contemporaries like Cash, Willie, Dolly, Waylon and Haggard received.

  21. bll
    April 28, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I’m old enough to remember when 45s first came out, and you could put one on repeat, playing the same song over and over; thus I learned ‘White Lightning’ in short order as a wee child courtesy of my Dad!

  22. Andrew
    April 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Here’s video of Alan Jackson’s tribute:

  23. Leeann Ward
    April 28, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    That was beautiful. Thanks for posting.

  24. Arlene
    June 20, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Thought I’d pass this along–I came across it in a blog that republished the liner notes on the LP version of George Jones’s 1976 album, The Battle:

    “At last count, I had in my possession twenty-three George Jones albums (I have owned more at different times, but they have been given away to friends, or in the heat of a possible conversion, to a nonbeliever – although I usually scare them off with my obnoxious enthusiasm). I have, bought George Jones albums in record stores from Boston to Burbank to London, in bargain bins of supermarkets, discount department stores, and even in gas stations. It is one of my goals to own, or at least hear, everything he ever has (or ever will) record.

    If you are wondering what all this fervor is about, then George Jones may never have sung out over your car radio. That can even save rush hour – anywhere. Because when you hear George Jones sing, you are hearing a man who takes a song and makes it a work of art – always. He has a remarkable voice that flows out of him effortlessly, and quietly, but with an edge that comes from the stormy part of the heart. In the south we call it high lonesome. I think it is popularly called soul.

    George Jones is a singer of country music. He does it better than anyone else. But when you are an artist of his calibre, categories become silly and fall away. George Jones is a great singer. And that’s what I started to say.

    Emmylou Harris

    New York City

    Jan. 4, 1976 – 1:06 A.M.

  25. Leeann Ward
    June 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Aw…that Emmylou is a real gem.

Tagged In This Article

Current Discussion

  • Paige: Oh damn. :( I never commented here and I haven't been listening to any music at all since Thanksgiving (it …
  • Dave W.: Just read the news here. Will miss E145 very much - love this site. All the best to you Juli …
  • Leeann Ward: Oh, dang! This is real. Farewell to the most generous, informative, quality, intelligent, consistent, ethical country music blog! You …
  • bll: Thanks Juli for all the great articles and information; you'll be missed by me and I suss several others. Best …
  • Both Kinds of Music: I hope people appreciate the irony that one of the best "Americana" albums is titled Metamodern Sounds in COUNTRY Music.
  • Barry Mazor: I would not rule out that possibility..There's a different set of voters involved..
  • Dana M: Does anyone else think that Brandy Clark actually has a good chance of winning since this isn't a country awards …
  • Juli Thanki: UPDATE: Brandy Clark got a Best New Artist nom. BEST AMERICANA ALBUM: Rosanne Cash -- The River & The Thread John Hiatt -- Terms …
  • luckyoldsun: Glenn Campbell is great and I'd love to see him get an award, but the words of that song may …
  • Casey Penn: Juli, it was an honor to write for you here on You're good at what you do, and The …

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • walkerandthetexasdangers3
  • deadmanstown
  • tom t hall storytellers
  • paulthorntooblessed
  • duhksbeyondtheblue
  • kelleymickwee
  • sandrarhodes
  • candi staton