x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Country music legend George Jones dies

George Jones, the peerless, hard-living country singer who recorded dozens of hits about good times and regrets and peaked with the heartbreaking classic He Stopped Loving Her Today, has died. He was 81.

George Jones. AP Photo
George Jones. AP Photo

His distinctive voice spanned the decades, Chris Talbott and Hillel Italie report

George Jones, the peerless, hard-living country singer who recorded dozens of hits about good times and regrets and peaked with the heartbreaking classic He Stopped Loving Her Today, has died. He was 81.

Jones died on Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, according to his publicist Kirt Webster. He had been hospitalised with fever and irregular blood pressure, forcing him to postpone two shows.

"Today someone else has become the greatest living singer of traditional country music, but there will never be another George Jones," said Bobby Braddock, the Country Music Hall of Fame songwriter who provided Jones with 29 songs over the decades. "No one in country music has influenced so many other artists."

He did it with that voice. Rich and deep, strong enough to crack like a whip, but supple enough to bring tears. It was so powerful, it made Jones the first thoroughly modern country superstar, complete with substance abuse problems and a rich-and-famous celebrity lifestyle.

"He just knows how to pull every drop of emotion out of it of the songs if it's an emotional song or if it's a fun song he knows how to make that work," Alan Jackson said in a 2011 interview.

His voice helped Jones achieve No. 1 songs in four separate decades, 1950s to 1980s. And its qualities were admired by more than just his fellow country artists but by Frank Sinatra, Pete Townshend, Elvis Costello, James Taylor and countless others. "If we all could sound like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones," Waylon Jennings once sang.

Word of his death spread Friday morning as his peers paid tribute.

Merle Haggard put it best, perhaps: "The world has lost the greatest country singer of all time. Amen."

Jones survived long battles with alcoholism and drug addiction, brawls, accidents and close encounters with death, including bypass surgery and a tour bus crash that he only avoided by deciding at the last moment to take a plane.

His failure to appear for concerts left him with the nickname "No Show Jones," and he later recorded a song by that name and often opened his shows by singing it.

He was in the midst of a yearlong farewell tour when he passed away. He was scheduled to complete the tour in November with an all-star packed tribute in Nashville.

* Associated Press

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