Country singer George Jones dead at 81

George Jones performs during the Country Music Association Awards in Tennessee, November 6, 2002.  Credit: Reuters
George Jones performs during the Country Music Association Awards in Tennessee, November 6, 2002.
Credit: Reuters

George Jones, a classic country singer with a voice full of raw honky-tonk emotion and a life full of honky-tonk turmoil, died on Friday at the age of 81, his spokesman said.

Jones, whose career spanned more than six decades and included hits such as “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “Window Up Above,” died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He had been hospitalized since April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure, spokesman Kirt Webster said.

Like his idol, Hank Williams, Jones fought a long battle with addiction. Alcohol and cocaine frequently derailed his career and at one point his reputation for canceling performances earned him the nickname No-Show Jones.

But when Jones did show up and was in good form, listeners were treated to a powerful and evocative voice. Jones was at his best with cry-in-your-beer songs and his masterful phrasing made them extra mournful.

As his later contemporary Waylon Jennings put it, “If we could all sound like we wanted to, then we’d all sound like George Jones.”


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