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Jones, George

George Jones

Singer, songwriter

Had First Country Hits

Plagued by Personal Problems

Kept Recording Despite Crash Trauma

Selected discography

Sources

George Jones is often called the best honky-tonk performer of all time. An artist whose own life mirrors the defeat and despair of his song lyrics, Jones was one of the most popular male country singers of the 1960s. He has remained a Nashville favorite to this day despite numerous bouts with drug abuse, repeated legal entanglements, and even an arrest for assault. Jones has recorded so many albums and singles that even he has lost count, but since the 1980s he has exerted more control over the direction of his music and the substance of his sound. This new control has meant that Joness material has returned to the unembellished, hard-hitting honky-tonk style that first brought him fame.

In her book Behind Closed Doors: Talking with the Legends of Country Music, Alanna Nash calls Jones the greatest country singer of all time, a man who understands, who can offer sympathy for the price of a quarter. Nash adds: The quarter drops, and out comes the voice of Despair, anxious at first, then desperate, with Jones sliding up a wail meant to caress and exorcise his demons at the same time. He holds the cry as he might the last bottle on earth, and then plunges to the low notes in a moan that leaves no doubtwhen you talk about pain and suffering, George Jones has been there.

Joness miseries began literally at birththe doctor who delivered him dropped him and broke his arm. Jones was raised in a succession of small Texas towns, his family finally settling in Beaumont, where his father took work in the shipyards. Life was hard for young George, who took what little consolation he could find from the guitar he learned to play at the age of nine. When his sister died of a fever, his grieving father turned to drink, often rousing George and the other children late at night to sing for him. George ran away from home at 14 and began to support himself playing backup guitar for radio programs. By 18 he had marriedand desertedthe mother of his first child.

Had First Country Hits

Jones spent 1950-53 in the United States Marine Corps and then returned to Texas to work as a house painter. Within months he was moonlighting as a radio performer, imitating his heroes Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, and Lefty Frizzell. Gradually his reputation spread, and he became acquainted with H. W. Pappy Daily, a producer for the Houston-based Starday label. Starday signed Jones and encouraged him to discover his own distinctive sound. In 1955 he had his first country hits, Why Baby Why and You Gotta Be My Baby. The following year he realized a dream that he had held since childhoodhe was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. He switched to the more prestigious Mercury label in 1958, where according to Nash he

For the Record

Born on September 12, 1931, in Saratoga, TX; son of George Washington (a pipe fitter) and Clara Jones (a church pianist); married first wife Dorothy, c. 1949; divorced; married second wife Shirley, 1954; divorced, 1968; married Tammy Wynette (a singer), September 1968; divorced, 1975; married Nancy Sepulvado (a telephone company worker), March 4, 1983; children: (first marriage) Susan; (second marriage) Jeffrey, Brian; (third marriage) Tamala Georgette; stepchildren: (fourth marriage) Adina, Sherry; served in the U.S. Marine Corps, 1950-53.

Professional singer/guitar player, c. 1945-; began performing on Texas radio stations and in honky-tonks, 1945; signed with Starday Records, 1953 (some sources say 1954), had first country hit, Why Baby Why, 1955; signed with Mercury Records, 1958, moved to United Artists label, 1961, moved to Musicor label, 1965, and Epic Records, 1967; signed with MCA Records, 1991; published autobiography and released album called I Lived to Tell It All, 1996; moved to Elektra/Asylum following release of It Dont Get Any Better Than This, 1998; released The Rock: Stone Cold Country on the BNA/Bandit label, 2001.

Awards: Country Music Trade Association, Male Vocalist of the Year, 1962-63; Academy of Country Music, Top Male Vocalist, 1980; Country Music Association, Mall Vocalist of the Year, 1980-81; Grammy Award, Best Country Vocal Performance by a Male, 1980; TNN Music City News Country Awards Living Legend Award, 1987; induction, Country Music Hall of Fame, 1992; Country Music Association, Vocal Event of the Year (with others), 1993; Country Music Association, Vocal Event of the Year (with Patty Loveless), 1998; Grammy Award, Best Country Vocal Performance bya Male, 1999; Country Music Association, Vocal Event of the Year (with Brad Paisley, Bill Anderson, and Buck Owens), 2001.

Addresses: Record company BNA/Bandit Records, 24 Music Square East, Nashville, TN 37203, phone: (615) 242-1234, website: http://www.bnarecords.com. Website George Jones Official Website: http://www.georgejones.com.

recorded his first honky-tonk classicsWhite Lightning and The Race Is Onand developed the emotional wail-and-moan delivery that would become his trademark.

Between 1958 and 1971 Jones placed at least one song in the country top ten each year. Only Merle Haggard rivals Jones for the most number-one country hits in the history of the business. Joness number one singles include Window Up Above, which he wrote himself, She Thinks I Still Care, We Must Have Been out of Our Minds, Take Me, Things Have Gone to Pieces, Love Bug, Im a People, and You Cant Get There from Here. Record companies bid for Joness services, and he switched several times, working at United Artists, Musicor, and finally Epic. For more than a decade he turned out albums at a staggering rate and toured almost without a break.

The relentless pace Jones set inevitably began to take its toll. By the mid-1960s the singer began to drink heavily and behave erratically, missing concert dates entirely or playing only abbreviated programs. His reputation received a reprieve in 1967, when he began to tour with Tammy Wynette. Both Jones and Wynette were at the peak of their careers at the time, and they proved a winning duo. They were married in 1968. For a time the marriage seemed to steady Joneshe and Wynette even ended their concerts with a song version of their wedding vowsbut turbulence developed and Jones began drinking heavily again. Jones and Wynette divorced in 1975 and quarrelled openly for some years thereafter. The two managed to reconcile and record the album One in 1995, their first in 15 years. Wynette had appeared on Joness acoustic album in 1994, called The Bradley Barn Sessions, which helped ease tensions between the two and made the recording of One possible. We rediscovered our loyalty, and I think our patience and endurance speak well of both of us, after what weve been through, Wynette told Nash in an article for Entertainment Weekly in 1995. Wynette died of a blood clot on May 14, 1998.

Plagued by Personal Problems

The late 1970s proved a nadir for Jones. He had to declare bankruptcy after a number of show promoters sued him for missed dates. Alcohol abuse led to automobile accidents, fights with lovers, and one instance where he fired a gun at a male friend. By 1983 he had been hospitalized and arrested repeatedly for alcohol and cocaine use and sued by a legion of creditors and ex-wives. Nash notes, however, that his problems only made him more irresistible to his fans. Even as he wrestled with the shambles of his personal life, Jones made a momentous professional decision: he vowed to return to the traditional country sound that he had always loved, a sound that had too long been submerged in over-produced tracks.

Jones told High Fidelity that he allowed his producersamong them the celebrated Billy Sherrillto orchestrate his material in such a way that it might appeal to the crossover audience. I went along with the record company against my better judgment, he said. I didnt wanna do it, but I let them put strings on my sessions just out of curiosity, more or less, just to see what they might do. When you use strings and horns and all these things, you just dont have country music anymore you abuse it. To try to sell two or three hundred thousand more records hell, a man could always use the money, but I wouldnt go out of my way to have that big a production on my records, because. Im never gonna sell pop.

Joness return to his roots salvaged his career. Works such as He Stopped Loving Her Today, My Very Special Guests, and Shine On assured Jones a frontrunner position in the resurgent honky-tonk format. High Fidelity contributor Nick Tosches concludes that Jones has remained so popular over the years because of his singular voice. Unlike most country singers, the critic wrote, there is no cheap melodrama in his singing. He works his rough Texas voice with a noble gravity, wringing from every work its full color and power. He has a poets sense of rhythm: the most pedestrian lyrics emerge from his mouth with teutonic dignity. In Stereo Review, Nash likewise suggests that Jones might prove to be the last poor boy to give traditional country music everything he has in him.

Jones continued to record prolifically through the 1990s. Among his most notable releases were HighTech Redneck in 1993, The Bradley Barn Sessions in 1994, It Dont Get Any Better Than This in 1998, and The Cold Hard Truth in 1999, on which Joness Grammy Award-winning single Choices appeared. Jones was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, and he published his autobiography, I Lived to Tell It All, in 1996, with an album of the same name.

Kept Recording Despite Crash Trauma

On March 6, 1999, just prior to Joness recording of The Cold Hard Truth, he was involved in a near-fatal car accident near Nashville. Jones drove his car into a bridge and suffered multiple internal injuries as a result of the crash. Jones pled guilty to driving while impaired, was fined $500, and was required to enter an alcohol treatment program. According to People magazine, Jones said at his sentencing in May of 1999 that I did wrong that day, and I take full responsibility, though he later said that drinking had not played a part in the crash. I was rewinding a tape, the People article quotes Jones. I must have took my eye off the road for a second. Despite the crash and Joness lengthy recuperation, The Cold Hard Truth was released on its scheduled date, June 22, 1999.

Joness 2001 release, The Rock: Stone Cold Country, marked his first on the BNA Records label. Due to the closure of the Asylum Records imprint under Warner Bros, in 2000 and the resulting personnel changes, Jones chose to leave the parent label. He signed to a new label founded by former Asylum managers Eveyly Shriver and Susan Nadler called Bandit Records, which is distributed by BMG. In addition to signing on as a recording artist, Jones also became a business partner to Shriver and Nadler.

Selected discography

George Jones Sings, Mercury, 1960.

Country Church Time, Mercury, 1960.

Country and Western Hits, Mercury, 1961.

Crown Prince of Country, Starday, 1961.

Greatest Hits of George Jones, Mercury, 1961.

George Jones Greatest Hits, Starday, 1962.

George Jones Sings from the Heart, Mercury, 1962.

The Fabulous Country Music Sound of George Jones, Starday, 1962.

Ballad Side, Mercury, 1963.

Duets Country Style, Mercury, 1963.

Homecoming in Heaven, United Artists, 1963.

Novelty Styles, Mercury, 1963.

Blue and Lonesome, Mercury, 1964.

Bluegrass Hootenanny, United Artists, 1964.

George Jones Salutes Hank Williams, Mercury, 1964.

George Jones Sings Like the Dickens, United Artists, 1964.

Grand Ole Opry, United Artists, 1964.

I Get Lonely, United Artists, 1964.

More Favorites by George Jones, United Artists, 1964.

Number One Male Singer, Mercury, 1964.

The Great George Jones, Mercury, 1964.

Whats in Our Hearts, United Artists, 1964.

Heartaches and Tears, Mercury, 1965.

Im a People, Musicor, 1966.

(With Melba Montgomery) Close Together as You and Me, Musicor, 1966.

Walk through This World with Me, Musicor, 1967.

If My Heart Had Windows, Musicor, 1968.

Ill Share My World with You, Musicor, 1969.

My Country, Musicor, 1969.

Where Grass Wont Grow, Musicor, 1969.

Will You Visit Me on Sunday?, Musicor, 1970.

George Jones With Love, Musicor, 1971.

A Picture of Me (Without You), Epic, 1972.

Nothing Ever Hurt Me, Epic, 1973.

In a Gospel Way, Razor and Tie, 1974.

You Gotta Be My Baby, RCA, 1974.

Memories of Us, Epic, 1975.

The Best of the Best, RCA, 1975.

Alone Again, Epic, 1976.

I Am What I Am, Epic, 1980.

My Very Special Guests, Epic, 1980.

Anniversary: Ten Years of Hits, Columbia, 1982.

Shine On, Epic, 1983.

By Request, Epic, 1984.

First Time Live!, Epic, 1985.

Jones Country, Epic, 1985.

The Lone Star Legend, Ace, 1985.

Best of George Jones, Epic, 1986.

Burn the Honky Tonk Down, Rounder, 1986.

Country, By George!, Epic, 1986.

Honky Tonks and Heartaches, Mercury, 1987.

Live at Dancetown U.S.A., Ace, 1987.

One Woman Man, Epic, 1989.

Walls Can Fall, MCA, 1992.

High-Tech Redneck, MCA, 1993.

The Bradley Barn Sessions, MCA, 1994.

The Essential George Jones: The Spirit of Country, Epic/Legacy, 1994.

I Lived to Tell It All, MCA, 1996.

It Dont Get Any Better Than This, MCA, 1998.

The Cold Hard Truth, Elektra, 1999.

The Rock: Stone Cold Country, BNA, 2001.

With Tammy Wynette

We Go Together, Epic, 1971.

Me and the First Lady, Epic, 1972.

We Love To Sing about Jesus, Razor and Tie, 1972.

Lets Build a World Together, Epic, 1973.

Were Gonna Hold On, Epic, 1973.

Together Again, Epic, 1980.

George and Tammy Super Hits, Sony, 1995.

One, MCA, 1995.

Sources

Books

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, Harmony, 1977.

Malone, Bill C., Country Music U.S.A., revised edition, University of Texas Press, 1985.

Malone, Bill C. and Judith McCulloh, Stars of Country Music, University of Illinois Press, 1975.

Nash, Alanna, Behind Closed Doors: Talking with the Leg ends of Country Music, Knopf, 1988.

Shestack, Melvin, The Country Music Encyclopedia, Crowell, 1974.

Stambler, Irwin and Grelun Landon, The Encyclopedia of Folk, Country, and Western Music, St. Martins, 1969.

Periodicals

Entertainment Weekly, June 30, 1995.

High Fidelity, May 1977.

People, January 15, 1979; May 31, 1999.

Stereo Review, September 1983.

Online

All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (March 27, 2002).

BNA Records, http://www.bna.com (March 27, 2002).

Contemporary Authors Online, Biography Resource Center, http://www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC (March 27, 2002).

Country Music Association Awards, http://www.cmaawards.com (February 4, 2002).

George Jones Official Website, http://www.georgejones.com (March 27, 2002).

Anne Janette Johnson

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Jones, George

George Jones

Singer, songwriter

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

George Jones is often called the best honky-tonk performer of all time. An artist whose own life mirrors the defeat and despair of his song lyrics, Jones was one of the most popular male country singers of the 1960s. He has remained a Nashville favorite to this day despite numerous bouts of drug abuse, repeated legal entanglements, and even an arrest for assault. Jones has recorded so many albums and singles that even he has lost count, but since the 1980s began he has exerted more control over the direction of his music and the substance of his sound. This new control has meant that Joness material has returned to the unembellished, hard-hitting honky-tonk style that brought him his first fame.

In her book Behind Closed Doors: Talking with the Legends of Country Music, Alanna Nash calls Jones the greatest country singer of all time, a man who understands, who can offer sympathy for the price of a quarter. Nash adds: The quarter drops, and out comes the voice of Despair, anxious at first, then desperate, with Jones sliding up a wail meant to caress and exorcise his demons at the same time. He holds the cry as he might the last bottle on earth, and then plunges to the low notes in a moan that leaves no doubtwhen you talk about pain and suffering, George Jones has been there.

Joness miseries began literally at birththe doctor who delivered him dropped him and broke his arm. Jones was raised in a succession of small Texas towns, his family finally settling in Beaumont, where his father took work in the shipyards. Life was hard for young George, who took what little consolation he could find from the guitar he learned to play at the age of nine. When his sister died of a fever, his grieving father turned to drink, often rousing George and the other children late at night to sing for him. George ran away from home at fourteen and began to support himself playing backup guitar for radio programs. By eighteen he had marriedand desertedthe mother of his first child.

Jones spent three years in the Marine Corps and then returned to Texas to work as a house painter. Within months he was moonlighting as a radio performer, imitating his heroes Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, and Lefty Frizzell. Gradually his reputation spread, and he became acquainted with H. W. Pappy Daily, a producer for the Houston-based Starday label. Starday signed Jones and encouraged him to discover his own distinctive sound. In 1955 he had his first country hits, Why Baby Why and You Gotta Be My Baby. The following year he realized a dream that he had held since childhoodhe was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. He switched to the more prestigious Mercury label in 1958,

For the Record

Born September 12, 1931, in Saratoga, Tex; son of a pipe-fitter and a church pianist; married first wife c. 1949 (divorced); married second wife, 1954 (divorced, 1968); married Tammy Wynette (a country singer), September, 1968 (divorced, 1975); married Nancy Sepulveda, 1983; children: (second marriage) two sons, (third marriage) Georgette.

Professional singer-guitar player, c. 1945. Began performing on Texas radio stations and in honky-tonks, 1945; signed with Starday Records, 1953 (some sources say 1954), had first country hit, Why Baby Why, 1955; signed with Mercury Records, 1958, moved to United Artists label, 1961, moved to Musicor label, 1965, and Epic Records, 1967. Military service: U.S. Marine Corps, 1950-53.

where according to Nash he recorded his first honky-tonk classicsWhite Lightning and The Race Is Onand developed the emotional wail-and-moan delivery that would become his trademark.

Between 1958 and 1971 Jones placed at least one song in the country top ten each year. Only Merle Haggard rivals Jones for the most number-one country hits in the history of the business. Joness number-one singles include Window Up Above, which he wrote himself, She Thinks I Still Care, We Must Have Been out of Our Minds, Take Me, Things Have Gone to Pieces, Love Bug, Im a People, and You Cant Get There from Here. Record companies bid for Joness services, and he switched several times, working at United Artists, Musicor, and finally Epic. For more than a decade he turned out albums at a staggering rate and toured almost without a break.

The relentless pace Jones set inevitably began to take its toll. By the mid-1960s the singer began to drink heavily and behave erratically, missing concert dates entirely or playing only abbreviated programs. His reputation received a reprieve in 1967, when he began to tour with Tammy Wynette. Both Jones and Wynette were at the peak of their careers at the time, and they proved a winning duo. They were married in 1968. For a time the marriage seemed to steady Joneshe and Wynette even ended their concerts with a song version of their wedding vowsbut turbulence developed and Jones began drinking heavily again. Jones and Wynette divorced in 1975 and quarrelled openly for some years thereafter.

The late 1970s proved a nadir for Jones. He had to declare bankruptcy after a number of show promoters sued him for missed dates. Alcohol abuse led to automobile accidents, fights with lovers, and one instance where he fired a gun at a male friend. By 1983 he had been hospitalized and arrested repeatedly for alcohol and cocaine use and sued by a legion of creditors and ex-wives. Nash notes, however, that his problems only made him more irresistible to his fans. Even as he wrestled with the shambles of his personal life, Jones made a momentous professional decision: he vowed to return to the traditional country sound that he had always loved, a sound that had too long been submerged in over-produced tracks.

Jones told High Fidelity that he allowed his producersamong them the celebrated Billy Sherrillto orchestrate his material in such a way that it might appeal to the crossover audience. I went along with the record company against my better judgment, he said. I didnt wanna do it, but I let them put strings on my sessions just out of curiosity, more or less, just to see what they might do. When you use strings and horns and all these things, you just dont have country music anymore you abuse it. To try to sell two or three hundred thousand more records hell, a man could always use the money, but I wouldnt go out of my way to have that big a production on my records, because Im never gonna sell pop.

Joness return to his roots salvaged his career. Works such as He Stopped Loving Her Today, My Very Special Guests, and Shine On assured Jones a front-runner position in the resurgent honky-tonk format. High Fidelity contributor Nick Tosches concludes that Jones has remained so popular over the years because of his singular voice. Unlike most country singers, the critic writes, there is no cheap melodrama in his singing. He works his rough Texas voice with a noble gravity, wringing from every work its full color and power. He has a poets sense of rhythm: the most pedestrian lyrics emerge from his mouth with teutonic dignity. In Stereo Review, Nash likewise suggests that Jones might prove to be the last poor boy to give traditional country music everything he has in him.

Many times Jones has said that he plays, sings, and writes country music out of a deep love for the genre. He told Nash: I wouldnt care if I even got paid for the dates, because how can you put a price on it? Its really not that important to me, as far as glory, popularity, and those things. I just feel like Im makin people happy, that theyre likin what Im doin. And they durn sure make me happy when I walk out on that stage. Thats all thats really important to me.

Selected discography

George Jones Sings, Mercury, 1960.

Country Church Time, Mercury, 1960.

Country and Western Hits, Mercury, 1961.

Greatest Hits of George Jones, Mercury, 1961.

Crown Prince of Country, Starday, 1961.

The Fabulous Country Music Sound of George Jones, Starday, 1962.

George Jones Greatest Hits, Starday, 1962.

George Jones Sings from the Heart, Mercury, 1962.

Ballad Side, Mercury, 1963.

Duets Country Style, Mercury, 1963.

Novelty Styles, Mercury, 1963.

Homecoming in Heaven, United Artists, 1963.

Blue and Lonesome, Mercury, 1964.

The Great George Jones, Mercury, 1964.

George Jones Salutes Hank Williams, Mercury, 1964.

Number One Male Singer, Mercury, 1964.

Bluegrass Hootenanny, United Artists, 1964.

Grand Ole Opry, United Artists, 1964.

I Get Lonely, United Artists, 1964.

More Favorites by George Jones, United Artists, 1964.

George Jones Sings Like the Dickens, United Artists, 1964.

Whats in Our Hearts, United Artists, 1964.

Heartaches and Tears, Mercury, 1965.

My Very Special Guests, Epic, 1980.

Shine On, Epic, 1983.

Jones Country, Epic, 1985.

Best of George Jones, Epic, 1986.

Country, By George! Epic, 1986.

Honky Tonks and Heartaches, Mercury, 1987.

One Woman Man, Epic, 1989.

(With Melba Montgomery) Close Together, Musicor.

If My Heart Had Windows, Musicor.

Ill Share My World with You, Musicor.

Im a People, Musicor.

In a Gospel Way, Epic.

Love Bug, Musicor.

Mr. Music, Musicor.

My Boys, Musicor.

My Country, Musicor.

New Hits with the Jones Boys, Musicor.

Nothing Ever Hurt Me, Epic.

Oh Lonesome Me, Epic.

Old Bush Arbors, Musicraft.

(With Montgomery) Party Pickin, Musicor.

The Race Is On, RCA.

Songs of Dallas Frazier, Musicor.

Songs of Leon Payne, Musicor.

The George Jones Story, Musicor.

Walk through this World, Musicor.

We Found Heaven Here, Musicor.

Where Grass Wont Grow, Musicor.

Will You Visit Me on Sunday? Musicor.

With Love, Musicor.

You Gotta Be My Baby, RCA.

Famous Country Music Makers, RCA.

The Best of the Best, RCA.

George Jones Sings His Songs, RCA.

We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds, RCA.

Alone Again, Epic.

The Battle, Epic.

A Picture of Me, Epic.

Memories of Us, Epic.

The Best of Times, Epic.

Anniversary: Ten Years of Hits, Columbia.

Bartenders Blues, Epic.

Burn the Honky Tonk Down, Rounder.

By Request, Epic.

Encore, Epic.

First Time Live! Epic.

Heartaches & Hangovers, Rounder.

Am What I Am, Epic.

Ladies Choice, Epic.

Live at Dancetown U.S.A., Ace.

The Lone Star Legend, Ace.

With Tammy Wynette

George and Tammy and Tina, Epic.

Greatest Hits, Epic.

Leis Build a World Together, Epic.

Me and the First Lady, Epic.

Together Again, Epic.

We Go Together, Epic.

We Love To Sing about Jesus, Epic.

Were Gonna Hold On, Epic.

Sources

Books

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, Harmony, 1977.

Malone, Bill C, Country Music U.S.A., revised edition, University of Texas Press, 1985.

Malone, Bill C. and Judith McCulloh, Stars of Country Music, University of Illinois Press, 1975.

Nash, Alanna, Behind Closed Doors: Talking with the Legends of Country Music, Knopf, 1988.

Shestack, Melvin, The Country Music Encyclopedia, Crowell, 1974.

Stambler, Irwin and Grelun Landon, The Encyclopedia of Folk, Country, and Western Music, St. Martins, 1969.

Periodicals

High Fidelity, May, 1977.

People, January 15, 1979.

Stereo Review, September, 1983.

Anne Janette Johnson

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"Jones, George." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved May 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/jones-george

Jones, George

GEORGE JONES

Born: Saratoga, Texas, 12 September 1931

Genre: Country

Best-selling album since 1990: Cold Hard Truth (1999)

Hit songs since 1990: "A Good Year for the Roses," "Choices," "Beer Run"


Writers and critics often describe George Jones as the finest living country singer. In his book, In the Country of Country (1997), writer Nicolas Dawidoff accurately sums up Jones's vocal appeal: "It's the way he lingers on a word, kneading it for a sadness you didn't know was there." This overriding air of sadness is a fundamental aspect of Jones's art; his pinched, constricted singing and wide vocal range imbue his performances with a sense of longing and despair. Throughout a career that began in the early 1950s, Jones's self-destructive bouts with drinking, drugs, and lawlessness have found expression in his music. Although he has enjoyed some success in an up-tempo vein, Jones is at heart a ballad singer. On slow tearjerkers such as "A Good Year for the Roses" and "He Stopped Loving Her Today," Jones pulls listeners into his pain, expressing sorrow through small detailsa dated photograph, half-smoked cigarettes in an ashtraythat speak to the larger realm of human experience. By the 1980s and 1990s, Jones had inspired an entire generation of younger singers; modern country stars such as Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, and Kenny Chesney frequently proclaim his influence. Overcoming personal demons, Jones continued to perform and record in the new millennium, cementing his position as an elder statesman of country music.

Jones grew up near the East Texas town of Beaumont, the son of an alcoholic, bullying father and devoutly religious mother. As a child, he would often be woken up in the middle of the night by his drunken father, who insisted Jones perform for him. Jones's interest in country deepened once his family purchased a radio when he was seven. Soon after, his father bought him a guitar, encouraging him to perform on the streets of Beaumont for money. By the early 1950s, after an unsuccessful first marriage and a stint with the U.S. Marines, Jones was performing in clubs and bars, his singing influenced by the flowing vocal style of country balladeer Lefty Frizzell. Spotted by producer Pappy Dailey in 1953, Jones signed with Texas-based Starday Records and released his first single, "No Money in This Deal" (1954). Recording for a succession of labels during the 1950s and 1960s, Jones first performed in a hard-rocking, "honky-tonk" style before refining his vocal approach on string-laden ballads such as "She Thinks I Still Care" and "Walk through This World with Me."


Achieving Fame in the 1970s

In 1971 Jones moved to Epic Records, where Billy Sherrill, a producer largely responsible for the heavily orchestrated "countrypolitan" sound popular during the era, helmed his career. At Epic, Jones achieved his greatest degree of fame, the tear and ache in his voice informing hits such as "A Picture of Me (without You)" (1972) and "The Grand Tour" (1974). During this period Jones also recorded hits with his third wife, country star Tammy Wynette, who later wrote frankly about their tormented relationship. Establishing what writer Peter Guralnick described as "a reality-based framework for [his] art," Jones recorded "The Battle" (1976), a song that sets his marriage to Wynette within a military theme: "her soft satin armor lying on the far side of the bed / wounded and heart-broken and scarred by the killing words I said." By the end of the 1970s Jones was often homeless, addicted to alcohol and cocaine. Further, he became known as "No-show Jones," due to the frequency of his missed performances. Nonetheless, he managed to record what many critics consider his finest album, I Am What I Am (1980). The album features "He Stopped Loving Her Today," a dramatic tale of unrequited love that became one of Jones's signature hits.


Going Strong in the 1990s

Married to fourth wife Nancy Sepulvada, Jones had succeeded in shaking most of his demons by the late 1980s. Always a prolific artist, he recorded with undiminished energy in the 1990s, although his singles no longer hit the upper reaches of the country charts. Ironically, Jones had been ousted by singersTravis, Jackson, and otherswho modeled their vocal styles after his own. Still, Jones's professionalism was unwavering. In 1994 he scored a minor hit with a new version of "A Good Year for the Roses," recorded as a duet with Jackson. Although Jackson performs with characteristic sensitivity, he is largely obscured once Jones begins singing. Jones's voice tells a story, its lived-in, burnished edge imbuing each detail with sadness: "a lip-print on a half-filled cup of coffee that you poured and didn't drink / But at least you thought you wanted it / That's so much more than I can say for me." With his trademark ability to highlight words for emphasis, Jones extends "roses" across six syllables, singing certain lyrics powerfully while growing hushed on others. The effect for the listener is one of being drawn into Jones's world as an intimate witness. Pitching the final "roses" at the top of his range, supported by a sympathetic arrangement of guitar and steel pedal, Jones ends the performance on a note of loss and resignation.

In 1999 Jones released Cold Hard Truth, touted as a return to his tough country roots. An anomaly within the slick, radio-groomed world of late 1990s country, the album was hailed by critics as his finest in over a decade. Featuring clean, restrained instrumentation, songs such as "Our Bed of Roses" and the biting title track capture Jones's emotional honesty and renegade spirit. Although Jones sounds rushed and tired on the album's follow-up, Live with the Possum (1999), he rebounded for The Rock: Stone Cold Country 2001 (2001), his first album for the BNA label. A solid collection of contemporary material, Jones proves that his weathered voice still bears potency at the age of seventy. While most of his troubles lay behind him, these years were not without signs of Jones's former recklessness. In 1999 he was seriously injured in Nashville after his car crashed into a bridge. Although he recovered, an investigation showed that he had been drinking while driving.

Legendary pop vocalist Frank Sinatra once referred to Jones as "the second best male singer in America." Over the course of a fifty-year career, Jones has balanced such praise with ongoing commercial success, continuing to record minor hits in the 1990s and 2000s. More than any other singer, Jones is cited by contemporary country vocalists as a primary influence, not only for his keening vocal style but also for the heart and soul he pours into his work.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

The Grand Ole Opry's New Star (Starday, 1957); My Favorites of Hank Williams (United Artists, 1962); Sings the Songs of Dallas Frazier (Musicor, 1968); George Jones with Love (Musicor, 1971); A Picture of Me (without You) (Epic, 1972); I Am What I Am (Epic, 1980); Walls Can Fall (MCA, 1992); The Bradley Barn Sessions (MCA, 1994); Cold Hard Truth (Elektra, 1999); The Rock: Stone Cold Country 2001 (BNA, 2001).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

B. Allen, George Jones: The Saga of an American Singer (New York, 1988).

WEBSITE:

www.georgejones.com.

david freeland

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"Jones, George." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Jones, George." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved May 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/jones-george