He was counted out many times over the years, and kept bouncing back.
On Friday, after years of health scares, the country music world finally lost one of its greatest voices and most animated characters, George Jones.
Jones, 81, had been in a Nashville hospital for a week with fever and irregular blood pressure.
Starting his career in the mid-’50s, the east Texas native became known for his supple voice on early rockabilly songs like “The Race Is On,” and then such heartbreakers as “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “A Good Year for the Roses.” His contentious marriage to third wife Tammy Wynette was the stuff of legend and much great music.
The best story about Jones was that during his second marriage, to Shirley Corley, he was prone to drunken escapades. After being drunk for several days, she hid the keys to the cars. His solution: ride the lawnmower eight miles to the liquor store.
Jones had planned to make a farewell tour stop in July at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg.
Here is what other country stars had to say about him via statements
“THE Country Music singer of all time. The words ‘Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes’ has never been more true than today.”
“Well, heaven better get ready for some great country music. While George was known for his wild and crazy days, I’ve known him for 25 years as a friend. He had grown into a real good man. Of course, he will always be the greatest singer and interpreter of real country music – there’ll never be another. Like the song says, ‘You know this old world is full of singers, but just a few are chosen to tear your heart out when they sing. Imagine life without them…Who’s gonna fill their shoes.’”
“George Jones has been a major part of my personal and professional life for a long time. I have been inspired by his music for the last 50 years and for 42 of those, I had the pleasure of knowing him personally and professionally. He was IT to me. George was and will always be my guy. I am luckier than a lot of people on this Earth because God let me be a part of George’s life and him a part of mine. And on this day, his song couldn’t be more true: ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today.’”
“I met George when he came to Nashville and we became good friends. I’m really going to miss him. The world has lost the greatest singer to have ever lived.”
“Years ago someone asked Coach Bum Phillips if Earl Campbell was in a class by himself. Bum replied, ‘Well if he ain’t, it sure don’t take long to check roll.’ I say the same of the late great George Jones. Rest in peace POSSUM. You were always kind to me… THANKS.”
“George Jones may be gone but his music will live on forever. What a great voice and a great friend.”
“Country music as we know it would be vastly different if it weren’t for George Jones. He’s in our musical DNA. All country artists will have to figure out how to even begin to live up to his kind of legacy. ‘Honky Tonk Heaven,’ here he comes… though we’re not ready to let go.”
“The greatest most soulful voice in history is gone. RIP George Jones… the guys of Restless Heart will miss you greatly.”
The Marshall Tucker Band
“We met George many times over the past 50 years. This is a terrible loss for his family, friends, the country music industry and the world. He’s the most identifiable and inspirational country artist that has ever lived.
“George Jones was a mentor and a giant to my generation of country singers. He was there for my first Ralph Emery Show appearance. Backstage I was so nervous and expressed concern to George that if Ralph Emery didn’t like me, my career may never get off the ground. The first thing George said to Ralph when they went on air was how nice of guy he thought I was. George Jones was our country music soul singer, no doubt. Who’s gonna fill those shoes?”
The Bellamy Brothers
“We’ve lost one of the greatest voices in history. Prayers and condolences to his family.”
Sweethearts of the Rodeo
“Sharing the same vocal booth with George Jones on ‘Traveller’s Prayer’ was without a doubt THE highlight of our career. He was a true legend, generous and supportive and he will live on and on in our hearts.”
“It’s a sad day for country music and a great loss for those of us who knew him. I was blessed to call George my friend. He was one of the best country singers there ever was. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Nancy, and all of his family. It’s a sad, sad day.”
“There aren’t words in our language to describe the depth of his greatness. I’ll miss my kind and generous friend.”
“George Jones’ life is an example of so many wonderful things. How someone’s God-given gifts can make this a richer, better place. How one human being can overcome adversity, addiction, and life threatening obstacles time and time again. That it is not the stumble or fall that counts, but the willingness to stand again. How a keen sense of humor and a twinkle in a person’s eye can still prevail even after all of life’s hard knocks. How mistakes, missteps, and bad choices are not the end of the world if a person chooses to turn them into something good. And George’s life is above all the strongest example of how the love of a great woman can get a man through anything. All of this made its way beautifully into every note of the greatest voice country music will ever know. And one of the greatest friends you could ever have.
We miss you already, George. Brad”
“I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of one of my all time heroes, George Jones. Georges’ music was real and he was able to touch thousands through his songs. Not only was he a great singer, but he also had the ability to make you relate to every one of his songs, no matter who you are. He and his music will remain timeless in the world of country music. My thoughts and prayers are with his family through this difficult time.”
Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts:
“He was the greatest country vocalist that ever lived! Through the years we have all tried to emulate the passion in his voice, but no one can fill his shoes"